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Community policy on digital video broadcasting


Digital technologies open up major prospects for the future of television and, more generally, for the future electronic information highways or integrated broadband communications, in which digital television can play a pivotal role. The Council therefore considers that digital technologies need to be introduced onto the market in a harmonious fashion, and that this will be best achieved by means of a consensus process involving all the relevant economic agents.


Council resolution of 27 June 1994 on a framework for Community policy on digital video broadcasting [Official Journal C 181 of 02.07.1994].


This Council resolution stresses the importance of digital technology for the future of television. First, common standards must be adopted to allow harmonious introduction of digital television on the market. Conditional access is another important matter for the providers and consumers of pay-television services and for the rights holders of programmes. Fair and open competition must therefore be ensured in this area in order to protect the interests of the consumer and minimize the possibility of piracy.

The Council declares that the preferred way to achieve the objective of harmonious development of the market is to reach a consensus between all concerned, including broadcasting organizations. In the absence of such a consensus or if necessary to ensure fair and open competition, to protect consumers or safeguard a public interest, the Council is willing to introduce regulatory measures.

The consultations with industry on conditional access must continue in order to determine which additional measures are required.

The Council welcomes the Commission's intention:

  • to include research and development activities on digital television in its proposals for the specific programmes under the fourth framework programme;
  • to encourage standardization of digital television;
  • to encourage and monitor the development of implementation scenarios for digital video broadcasting;
  • to encourage studies;
  • to maintain a dialogue with the third parties concerned.

Finally, the Council calls on the Commission to monitor and report to it on all relevant developments. Proposals for appropriate action are expected as soon as they are felt necessary and useful and, in any event, before 1 July 1995.


Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 14 December 1999: Principles and guidelines for the Community's audiovisual policy in the digital age [COM(1999) 657 final - not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication lays down the European Commission's priorities for the next five years in terms of the introduction of digital technologies. It also sets out the objectives and principles of Community audiovisual policy in the mid-term (adapting the regulatory framework and the different national and Community support mechanisms).

Council Decision 89/337/EEC of 27 April 1989 on high-definition television [Official Journal L 142 of 25.05.1989].
The purpose of this Decision is to develop a global strategy for introducing high-definition television services in Europe.

Last updated: 28.07.2005
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