A unique alliance from across the broadcasting, telecoms, technology, new media and advertising sectors is voicing its concerns about the draft Audiovisual Media Services (AMS) Directive that is currently under discussion in Brussels. The UK government has serious concerns about the draft Directive and is currently discussing these with other Member States.

The key movers in this ‘unique alliance’ are Intellect (“the trade association for the UK high-tech industry”) and the Broadband Stakeholders Group (a government-stakeholder partnership, with Intellect acting as secretariat. The website (audiovisualstakeholders.org has a longer list of signatories to a paper (more on this in a second), including mobile phone operators (e.g. Vodafone, T-Mobile), broadcasters (e.g. ITV, Channel 4, Five), the ISP Association, etc. The Associated Press mistakenly says that Intel are involved (they aren’t, but ‘NTL’ are – perhaps an overly helpful subeditor thought it was an abbreviation?)

Anyhoo, all this fuss is about the update to the EU’s Television Without Frontiers directive; a proposal for which was published just at the end of 2005. The various bigwigs and mediumwigs involved in Intellect and the BSG have responded with a critical paper, which can be summarised as ‘nice try, but we’d prefer selfregulation, if it’s alright with you’. Their concern is with the prospect of ‘nonlinear’ AV services (primarily webcasting/online video-on-demand/mobile phone services/etc) being regulated, along similar lines to existing television services under Television W/O Frontiers (Stone Age version).

This is about to get very interesting. The website and paper are opening shots, but they appear to be preparing for a major fight.