INFORMATION SOCIETY : COMMISSION HIGHLIGHTS PROSPECTS FOR ONLINE CONTENT.

The European Commission is preparing the ground for its future proposals, due out in the latter half of 2007, to boost the online content market. The subject is a ticklish one because Commissioner Viviane Reding (Information Society) has the question of copyright and interoperability between competing digital devices in her sights.

She is consequently starting with the good news. According to a study presented on 25 January (1), online content will reach turnover of 8.3 billion in Europe by 2010, representing growth of over 400% from 2005. The music and video games industries are expected to account for the biggest shares, with 20% and 33% respectively of their earnings coming from internet. This mass market creates "unique opportunities" for the EU but certain obstacles first haveto be overcome.

"With digital convergence really happening now, it becomes clear that the obstacles hampering the development of digital content distribution are themselves convergent," states the report. In other words, certain obstacles affect all content (music, films, games), while others are limited to specific types of content. Similarly, some roadblocks are holding up the development of all platforms (internet, cell phones) while others block only specific platforms. As a whole, however, many of the problems slowing the development of online services are "similar," notes the study.

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A Commission consultation launched last autumn...

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