(RAPID) The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the regulatory principles to be applied by EU Member States to Next Generation Access broadband networks (NGA). NGA optical fibre-based networks enable bitrates several times higher than those currently available on traditional copper wire networks. NGAs are required to deliver high-definition content (such as high definition television) and interactive applications. The objective of a common regulatory framework for NGA is to foster a consistent treatment of operators in the EU and thereby ensure the necessary regulatory predictability to invest. The Commission is consulting on the basis of a draft Recommendation, addressed to the regulators in the 27 EU Member States and suggesting definitions for harmonized categories of regulated services, access conditions, rates of return and appropriate risk premiums. The public consultation will be open until 14th November 2008. The Commission will then finalise the Recommendation in the light of comments received and formally adopt it in 2009.
(Register) KPN will become the first operator in Europe to launch a nationwide mobile TV service when it begins broadcasting 10 channels across DVB-H next month. The Dutch operator's service kicks off from June 5 and it will offer TV-hungry customers two handsets, the LG KB620 and the Samsung P960, which can receive the broadcasts.
(RAPDI) The Commission has added the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld standard (DVB-H) to the EU List of Standards, which serves as a basis for encouraging the harmonised provision of telecommunications across the EU. The addition of DVB-H is a new step towards establishing a Single Market for Mobile TV in Europe that will enable all EU citizens to watch TV on the move.
(BBC) Apple and 20th Century Fox studio are to announce a deal that will allow consumers to rent the studio's films through iTunes. They will have a limited time to watch films downloaded from the iTunes store, a source told the Financial Times.
(FT) Ofcom is facing questions about whether its reach should stretch further.
The scandals arising from television companies' pursuit of phone-in revenues have highlighted "boundary questions" for the super-regulator. Although broadcasters who deceive the public are answerable to Ofcom, the providers of such premium rate services, or PRS, are regulated by another body, Icstis. At the BBC, meanwhile, although Ofcom can fine the corporation for breaches, its management is answerable in other regards to the new BBC Trust.
(BBC) Some of the largest broadband providers in the UK are threatening to "pull the plug" from the BBC's new iPlayer unless the corporation contributes to the cost of streaming its videos over the internet. The likes of Tiscali, BT and Carphone Warehouse are all growing concerned that the impact of hundreds of thousands of consumers watching BBC programmes on its iPlayer ? which allows viewers to watch shows over the internet ? will place an intolerable strain on their networks. Some of the companies involved have told the BBC that they will consider limiting the bandwidth available to iPlayer ? a process known as traffic shaping. The measure would limit the number of consumers who could access the iPlayer at any one time.
(ITU) A presentation entitled 'Evolution of Digital Media in a Convergent Era' (PDF), was made by Cristina Bueti, Project Officer, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit,at the Festival International du Film et de la Télévision on 4 November in Geneva, Switzerland.
(Europa) The Safer Internet Forum 2007 will take place in Luxembourg on 20-21 June. The Forum will be composed of three workshops and a plenary session for discussing relevant issues with stakeholders which, in addition to the public consultation on Safer Internet and online technologies for children, will give input for the Commission's decision whether to propose a follow-up programme from 2009 to 2013. The three workshops focus on: Online-related sexual abuse of children, in particular grooming; Assessing the need for awareness-raising for creating a safe online environment for children; and The impact and consequences of convergence of online technologies for online safety.
(BBC) BBC shows such as Doctor Who and EastEnders are to be made available on-demand after the BBC's iPlayer service was given the green light. The service - which will launch later this year - allows viewers to watch programmes online for seven days after their first TV broadcast. Episodes can also be downloaded and stored for up to 30 days. The BBC Trust gave the iPlayer the go-ahead after consultations with members of the public. See also analysis (Ars Technica).
(BBC) Joost, the on-demand online video service backed by the founders of Skype, has launched commercially. The internet television service boasts more than 150 content channels - from cartoons to music videos and films. Services like Joost may change the way viewers consume media and revolutionise the business model of broadcasters. The service provides video streams in broadcast quality, and is distributed using peer-to-peer technology. The founders of Joost - Niklas Zennstroem and Janus Friis - are also the team behind the hugely successful internet telephony service Skype.
(RAPID) Revenue from online content will reach ?8.3 billion by 2010 in Europe, a growth of over 400% in five years, says 'Interactive Content and Convergence: Implications for the information Society', a new study for the European Commission. For the most advanced sectors, online content will represent a significant share of total revenue: about 20% for music and 33% for video games. Thanks to the spread of broadband, the roll-out of advanced mobile networks, and the massive adoption of digital devices, the study shows that mass market online content distribution is becoming a reality, creating unique opportunities for Europe.
(Economist) The past couple of years have seen a series of huge takeovers and mergers among network operators and makers of telecoms equipment around the world. All of these transactions were prompted by a single underlying trend that has become the industry's new mantra: convergence. What this means, roughly, is the coming together of previously separate communications and entertainment services: fixed and mobile telephony, broadband internet access and television. But more often the word is used in a quasi-mystical way to evoke information heaven.
(CDT) Leslie Harris, Centre for Democracy and Technology's Senior Consultant and incoming Executive Director, testified before a congressional panel about the need to focus on user empowerment in the ongoing effort to protect kids from viewing inappropriate material online. At a Senate subcommittee hearing titled 'Protecting Children and Families in the Age of Convergence,' Harris pointed to the findings of two panels charged by Congress with addressing the issue. Both found that filtering technologies and other user empowerment tools provide the most effective means to limit the types of content that children are exposed to online.
(OfcomWatch) In its key response to the European Commission the UK government has largely opposed the extension of 'TV-type' regulation to the whole sector of 'audio-visual content services'. The government argues that the proposed definitions of 'linear' and 'non-linear' services and of 'audio-visual content services' are unclear, would place some industries such as publishing in jeaopardy of double regulation, and would impose unnecessary regulatory burdens on the emerging 'convergence' services.
(RAPID) Speech by Mrs Reding. Audiovisual Conference - Between Culture and Commerce, Liverpool, 22 September 2005. I am determined to find the best possible, future-proof balance between a light burden on industry, in order to boost Europe's competitiveness and to encourage successful cross border services on the one hand, and on the other hand the pursuit of undisputed public policy objectives, such as protection of minors or the fight against racial hatred. I have heard and read here and there, that Brussels intends to regulate the Internet, to introduce new red tape. Frankly, this is nonsense! Never ever has the Commission had such a foolish idea! But let me ask you some questions: who in this room is in favour of child-pornography on the new media? Who stands for the freedom to spread incitement to racial hatred on the new media? If one of the service providers present here in this room considers that these abuses are just business-as-usual, he should stand up and take the floor. It is the duty of the Commission to propose a framework under which these shared European values are protected. But I have no intention to "regulate the Internet"! On the scope of the future legal framework for audiovisual services, nearly everyone agrees that ensuring a level playing field among platforms delivering similar audiovisual content falls into the remit of the European lawmaker. In any case, technological change and convergence lead to a multiplication of services. It is necessary to have a technologically neutral regulatory approach, taking into account the degree of choice and control of the consumer. That is why we make a clear distinction between linear and non-linear services.
(CommsWatch ) Ofcom has repeatedly made it clear that it has no powers to regulate Internet content and it does not wish to seek such powers. However, senior figures at Ofcom have called several times for a public debate on the regulation of Internet content in the context especially of the convergence of broadcasting and the Net. However, there is not a lot of evidence that this debate is taking place as comprehensively and as vigorously as is necessary.
(Wired) In a bid to shake up the beleaguered American patent system, a law professor has crafted a proposal that would shift the patent-application process away from individual examiners to an internet-based, peer-review method. Called Peer to Patent, the proposal by Beth Noveck, director of New York Law School's Institute for Information Law and Policy, aims to relieve the current system, in which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a backlog of half a million cases. Noveck's plan would turn the review process over to tens or hundreds of thousands of experts in various fields who would collectively decide an application's fate via a massive rating system not unlike that of eBay. Under the plan, inventors who submit their work for peer review would be eligible for a 20-year patent. Inventors could also choose to use the existing system. However, in that case, patents would be granted for five years
The Department of Communications IT and the Arts (DCITA) said the newly-created ACMA would provide an improved regulatory response to new digital technologies. The department said it was neither practical nor effective to maintain two separate regulators that both dealt with similar issues, albeit in separate sectors of the communications market.
(ITU) A New Initiatives Workshop will take place 4-5 March 2004 in Seoul, hosted by Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC). This joint ITU-MIC Workshop will follow an ITU-MIC New Initiatives Symposium to be held on 3 March 2004 on "Shaping the future broadband convergence network". Both events will be made possible through close collaboration between the ITU's Strategy and Policy Unit and Korea's MIC and International Cooperation Agency for Korea IT.
(Europa) On 14 October 2003, the European Commission will hold workshops in Brussels on two independent studies for the Commission. In the morning, Siticom/Devoteam and Cullen International will present the findings of their study on the regulatory implications of Next Generation Networks and other developments in electronic communications (executive summary; full report). In the afternoon, Political Intelligence will present its work on the policy implications of convergence of numbering, naming and addressing (executive summary; full report). Programme for the day. The workshops are open but pre-registration is required.
(WIK) The new European regulatory framework for telecommunications aims at harmonising regulation across the EU based on flexible rules. Covering all electronic networks and services, it takes into account the convergence of platforms. The relevant directives should be implemented in the Member States by July 2003. The WIK-conference will refer to the most relevant questions in the ongoing discussion regarding the changing European regulatory framework in telecommunications. The conference will give an overview on the progress of implementing the European framework in the member countries. The implementation process will be evaluated from different players in the telecommunications market.
CoE - Options for the review of the TV Convention (Council of Europe) Dr. Andreas Grünwald, consultant on the impact of convergence on the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, has delivered a report covering the possible options to review the Convention. Suggestions on how to define new media services are made in the report, as is the question of whether such new services should fall under the scope of the Convention. The report also points to the need to reconsider or re-interpret many of the substantive provisions in the Convention in the light of market and technological developments. Comments can be addressed to the Media Division by 15 September 2003.
2002-12-12 EU, Brussels - Convergence of Web Services, Grid Services and the Semantic Web for delivering e-Services? (IST Diffuse Project) Commissioner Erkki Liikanen will provide the Opening Keynote Address at the IST Diffuse Project Final Conference to be held on 12th December 2002 in the Centre Borschette, Brussels. The conference will review, explore and discuss the strategic issues concerning and surrounding the three interrelated technologies of Web Services, Grid Services and the Semantic Web from a broad perspective. The conference programme includes Keynotes from Carl Kesselman (a Founder of the Grid), Bruce Perens (Primary Author of the Open Source Definition), Guus Schreiber (Co-Chair, W3C Web Ontology WG) and the European Commission. The programme also includes senior speakers from ABN AMRO Trust, BEA, Berkom, IBM, Sun, TIEKE and Universities of Heidelberg & Toronto.
The traditionalists? revenge (Economist) Thomas Middelhoff, the chief executive of Bertelsmann, a privately-held German media conglomerate, has been forced out after a boardroom battle. The board disagreed with his plan to take the company public by 2005. Following the departure of Jean-Marie Messier from Vivendi and Bob Pittman from AOL Time Warner, Mr Middelhoff?s ouster is further proof that the much-vaunted convergence between old media and the Internet has yet to pay off.
The UDRP Tracking Project (Convergence Center ) In 2001 the Markle Foundation provided grants to Syracuse University's Convergence Center and the University of Massachusetts' Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution to track the results of ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). The purpose of the project was twofold. One objective was to investigate the results and substance of the UDRP. The other was to tackle some of the information organization and retrieval problems associated with keeping track of thousands of domain name dispute cases. On June 24, 2002 we released a demonstration database and a report, representing completion of the first phase of that project. The Convergence Center database contains detailed summaries of the first 3,845 UDRP cases. Along with the database we are releasing a report, Success by Default: A New Profile of Domain Name Trademark Disputes under ICANN's UDRP.
Convergence and the Information Society (RAPID) Mr Erkki Liikanen Member of the European Commission, responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society, Conference on Media Convergence: Opportunities for a closer relationship between Europe and the Americas, Madrid, 13 May 2002
Tussle over TV regulation in Beijing (FT) The tussle for the future of the largest cable television market in the world took a new twist after China's telecommunications regulator gave a green light for convergence between internet and cable businesses - but the TV market regulator remained resistant to the idea.
FT.com - Special Reports / FTIT June 20 2001 (FT) Special Report - Information technology. Will consumers be left to their own devices?
As the convergence trend takes hold, service providers must stop pushing technology at people and listen instead to their real wishes. also Online government, Public sector, Wireless LANs.
The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World (First Monday) by Clifford Lynch. With the convergence of different types of content into a common digital bit-stream, developments in industries such as music are establishing precedents that may define our view of digital books. This paper examines competing visions for the future of the book in the digital environment, with particular attention to questions about the social implications of controls over intellectual property, such as continuity of cultural memory.
2nd European Summer School (ECLIP) Palma de Mallorca, 10th - 14thSeptember 2001. 2nd European Summer School designed for advanced students, postgraduates, lawyers and company members on Legal Aspects of E-Commerce. 2nd Generation Issues: Smart Cards, Convergence between Telecoms and Internet: m-commmerce and t-commerce, Electronic Agents, Digital Rights Management, Alternative Ways of Internet Regulation.
ZapMedia, Samsung Team On Entertainment Convergence (Newsbytes) ZapMedia Inc. and Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., part of the Samsung Group, today said the two companies will produce an entertainment convergence product. The "Samsung ZapStation" will allow consumers to access digital audio and video entertainment and surf the Internet without a computer, the two companies said. The product, due out by the end of 2001, will have a 30-gigabyte hard drive that can store up to 30 hours of video or up to 10,000 songs. It will contain a digital audio jukebox that can play Windows Media Audio and MP3 formats, a CD and DVD player, and a CD ripper.
What?s Next in the Information Market? (IST Diffuse Project) The Diffuse Project is pleased to invite you to the first annual Diffuse conference. The title for this year's conference is "From Convergence to Consolidation: What's Next in the Information Market?" The conference will explore developments, and debate issues, relating to the harmonization of digital content, with specific reference to the Diffuse classification framework. Attendance is free of charge.
Computers, Freedom & Privacy CFP 2001 The Eleventh Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy March 6 - 9, 2001, Hyatt Regency, Cambridge, Massachusetts USA. Call for proposals. Themes include governance, social impacts, individual autonomy and integrity, convergence, digital divide, privacy, international issuesa and electronic commerce. The Deadline for Proposals is January 5, 2001.
WIPO domain dispute coup continues (The Register) WIPO has continued its march toward control of the domain dispute market, taking 68.5 per cent of all cases in November - up from 66 per cent in October, 63 per cent in September and just 48 per cent back in January. These details and many many more like them have been supplied by the Syracuse University Convergence Center, which has produced a report on the whole Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy.
Blair's law of convergence (FT) There may be only months to go before the next general election but Tony Blair's government has not lost its sense of ambition in at least one sphere: industry regulation. Having brought together oversight of banking and securities under the Financial Services Authority, it is now putting the final touches to an overhaul of media and telecommunications law.
Convergence and broadcasting regulation (Council of Europe) The Council of Europe will organise a Conference in Strasbourg on 13 September 2000, on the theme "new digital platforms for audiovisual services and their impact on the licensing of broadcasters" which will bring together leading representatives from regulatory authorities and the new media. As a follow-up to the 6th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Cracow, 15-16 June 2000), the conference aims at identifying current approaches taken at national and international levels for the adaptation of the regulatory framework and shall serve as a basis for the future intergovernmental work in this field.
For information and registration, see: http://www.humanrights.coe.int/media
Convergence Turns Out to Be a Strange Creature (New York Times) For all of the buzzwords in the technology industry, perhaps none is invoked as blindly, reflexively and totemically as "convergence." But, in fact, convergence is not really happening, at least not yet. And when it does, it will probably take forms much different than those generally envisioned today.