“Open platforms, trusted partnerships, fair regulation”

19.11.2019, Luxembourg, RTL Group

On 18 November 2019, Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group, delivered a keynote speech at the event that marked 30 years since the creation of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT).

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More than 15 billion Euro
Organised by ACT, the event was attended by around 200 representatives from the EU institutions, media industry, other trade associations and politicians. Under the title ‘Open platforms, trusted partnerships, fair regulation’, Thomas Rabe set the tone by highlighting the importance of the audiovisual sector in the European economy. In Thomas Rabe’s words: “Commercial broadcasters invest more than 15 billion Euro in European content every year. And apart from the economic contribution, we are a pillar of our democracy by providing trusted news and information based on high editorial standards. For example, RTL Hungary has become one of few independent sources of news in the country, despite massive pressure.”

Level playing field
In today’s digital era where US tech groups have assumed positions of unprecedented power and dominance, commercial broadcasters need to transform and build on their own numerous strengths: “What we need is fair competition and a modern regulatory framework which reflects today’s market realities,” highlighted Thomas Rabe identifying some key areas of particular concern for traditional media including regulation of advertising, copyright protection, data protection and competition law.

As advertising continues to constitute the main source of revenue for the broadcasters’ investments into content, a key area of concern pertains to regulation on TV advertising. While identifying the improvement made with the recently revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive, Thomas Rabe pointed out that TV regulations remains much more restrictive compared with the tech groups.

Regarding the sustainability of business models, effective copyright and data protection measures are essential. Thomas Rabe welcomed the recently adopted Copyright Directive which recognises that tech groups have to take more active measures against copyright infringements and stressed that the current copyright regulation which is based on the principle of territoriality should not be put into question.

Strategic partnerships
In addition to fair and modern regulation, more co-operation and partnerships between European broadcasters are required to compete with the tech giants. Thomas Rabe analysed what it means for RTL as a pan-European group: “Establishing such partnerships is part of RTL’s DNA as the first pan-European broadcasting group. Two weeks ago, we have started to actively present new partnership opportunities – all based on the philosophy of bundling resources of European broadcasters to establish open and neutral platforms. We offer such partnership opportunities in three areas:  advertising technology, VoD technology and international advertising sales.”

Big opportunities ahead
“These are exciting times. Times of monumental transformation with huge opportunities for those who are prepared to actively shape the future. I am convinced that more than ever, we need a strong voice in Europe here in Brussels,” concluded Thomas Rabe.  

Guillaume de Posch, President of ACT and former Co-CEO, Fedele Confalonieri, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mediaset S.p.A, and Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group


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