Welcome to the latest issue of Media, Sport and Entertainment Intelligence, offering you a selection of the latest and most impactful sector news worldwide.
Online gambling has continued to grab the headlines over the last month − a new gambling act in Poland, increased regulation in Greece and proposed changes in Germany − and Australia is following suit. Online betting on live sport in Australia is now banned until at least the federal election, due to take place before January next year. Unlicensed foreign bookmakers have been barred from taking bets from Australians under sweeping reforms to be announced by the Turnbull government. Keep an eye on the blog for updates as this story develops.
In the US, it has been reported that online advertising revenues have reached US$59.6 billion in 2015, a 20 per cent increase on 2014 figures. This is against the backdrop of the advertising blocking issues which continue to make headlines. Adblock Plus celebrated another substantial legal victory when the lawsuit launched agaisnt it by one of Germany’s biggest newspapers, Süddeutsche Zeitung, was dismissed. The case targeted the ad-blocking company’s Acceptable Ads program, which whitelists select publishers, based on whether their ads meet certain criteria, and, in the case of larger companies, whether they are willing to pay to be on the list.
When it comes to TV advertising, spending commitments could increase three percent to five percent in this year’s 'upfront' ad-sales period, reversing a recent trend, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. In more TV news, Fox has launched three new pay-TV channels in the Middle East – Fox Family Movies HD, Fox Action Movies HD and Fox HD – that will initially roll out in the UAE and Qatar.
Staying with TV, in the UK the government reviewed how the BBC is regulated. The report concluded that regulatory oversight of the BBC should be passed wholly to Ofcom and that the BBC should have a unitary board made up of a majority of non-executive directors. A number of changes are expected to happen in the wake of the report which could have an impact on other providers of TV content in the UK.
In sport, a very interesting case is unfolding in the US regarding the national women’s soccer team which could endanger its participation in the Rio Olympics. The US Soccer Federation policies on player compensation result in significantly lower pay for female players. A number of lawsuits are in play, most recently a discrimination case brought by the team against the federtaion with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But specific clauses again the use of strike action could result in the team being banned from the Rio games. Frank Ryan, one of our Sports partners in the US, is keeping abreast of developments and will update the blog as events warrant.
The EU Parliament has adopted the Directive on the Protection of confidential know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their misuse and theft. Following the discussion of the Panama Papers, MEPs ensured that the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and information are maintained and the work of investigative journalists will not be affected, in particular with regard to their investigations and protection of their sources. It also obliges EU member states to ensure defense mechanisms for victims in and out of court as well as to seek compensation. After the expected approval by the Council in May, the member states have two years to implement the provisions of the Directive into national law.
The European Council has published an updated version of the draft regulation on 'portability'. Key points arising include more detail on verification checks to establish 'residence' and confirmation that operators of free services are not obliged to make them accessible on a portable cross-border basis.
Meanwhile, in the context of the European Commission's investigation into contractual licensing agreements between several major US film studios and European pay-TV broadcasters, Paramount has offered several commitments - we await the Commission's response.
MSE blog updates
These are the most popular of the new posts on our Media, Sport and Entertainment blog: