Memorandum submitted by the Creators'
Rights Alliance (CRA)
The Creators' Rights Alliance (CRA) is an alliance
of 15 organisations established in October 2000, representing
more than 100,000 copyright creators and content providers throughout
the media, particularly in television, radio and the press.
1. THE PROPOSED
1.1 We feel that OFCOM should be fully accountable
to Parliament through the select committee process.
1.2 Whilst OFCOM is the regulator for the
BBC the independence and governance of the BBC is best carried
out by its own board of governors under the Charter.
1.3 As in 1.1 above, we believe that OFCOM
should in the first instance be accountable to a Select Committee.
1.4 We find this an obscure reference, as
there is no definition as to the interpretation of the word "stakeholder"
in this instance.
1.5 The regulatory impact of OFCOM's work
should extend to the relationship between broadcasters and content
1.6 We support the establishment of a Consumer
Panel, but believe there should be clear delineation between it
and the Content Board. All issues relating to content, including
complaints, disputes and grievances should be the sole responsibility
of the Content board.
1.7 We believe it is essential that as far
as is practically possible there needs to be total transparency.
2. THE PROPOSED
2.1 To the extent that there are rules on
the relaxation of ownership we suggest these should be strictly
reciprocal, particularly regarding overseas ownership.
2.2 We welcome the "competition"
approach for regulation of new services and networks and the impetus
this should give to accelerate the development of demand and supply
of creators' services. OFCOM should also have a role in spreading
awareness of the importance of copyright. It should inform new
service licensees and service providers of the need to obtain
copyright licences for any use of content in their services.
2.3 In a global media economy it is desirable
that the diversity of national, regional and ethnic cultures should
be protected. There needs to be an informed and inclusive debate
as to what role OFCOM should play in this arena. There needs to
be distinct lines of communication between OFCOM, the Secretaries
of State and the Select Committee.
2.4 As well as protecting the consumer in
the radio market OFCOM should take responsibility for promoting
as wide a diversity of programming as possible.
2.5 OFCOM should assume responsibility for
all competition issues within the broadcast and telecommunications
industries, subject to the regulations of the European Commission
and the Competition Commission. This should include issues of
fair trading practice between broadcasters, service providers
and content providers. It is a fallacy that a genuine free market
exists within the UK broadcast industry, because the economic
strength and commercial influence of the parties is so staggeringly
unequal. Relying on free market forces to produce fair and effective
regulation is like letting a free fox loose in a free chicken
2.6 The consumers' interests are best served
by having a wide range of programming and also a high quality
of product. This can only be achieved where the environment in
which programmes are made is conducive to a high level of creativity.
3. THE PROPOSED
The CRA believes OFCOM should exercise its powers
in ways that will preserve and promote the value of creative content
delivered by broadcast and online services. The omission of a
discussion of intellectual property and rights issues in general
within the Policy Narrative is serious, but the CRA suggests that
the best place to address this omission is in the remit and composition
of OFCOM's Content Board.
4. THE PLACE
While the CRA accepts that local and regional
interests are important and should be represented, the interests
of the content providers/creators are universal and therefore
cross all regional and indeed national boundaries. Without creators
there would be no content and therefore nothing to communicate.
The Communications Bill provides an opportunity to protect not
just the consumer, but also those individuals without whose ideas
and talent there would be no creative industry.
5. THE BALANCE
Of all sectors, the broadcasting and communications
industry is perhaps the most liable to rapid and dramatic change.
OFCOM should be flexible, adaptable and designed in such a way
as to respond quickly and effectively to the inevitable changes
in the years ahead. This should be reflected in all relationships
constructed between the Secretary of State, the Select Committee
and the relevant civil servants.