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EU plans single digital market

The European Commission has announced plans to lift the digital borders in Europe that currently makes streaming services such as Netflix and the BBC’s iPlayer inaccessible in foreign countries.

If the borders are banished it would mean millions of Brits who either travel or live elsewhere in Europe will be able to catch up on their favourite BBC, ITV and Channel 4 shows via each respective channel’s online and on-demand services

Currently, European copyright law forbids British broadcasters to allow their content to be viewable in most foreign European countries, but as more and more content moves online, the EU has announced that it has outlined proposals to update the law.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said that enjoying access to digital services across Europe was a “right for consumers”, and has earmarked 1 January 2017 as the date on which digital borders will be lifted.

People who legally buy content: films, books, football matches, TV series, must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe,” said the Commission’s Vice President for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip. “We want to ensure the portability of content across borders.”

The plan has been welcomed by the BBC, which ordered a cautious warning that there could be certain technical issues for some travellers hoping to catch up on their favourite shows on iPlayer while abroad.

“We are interested in being able to allow UK licence-fee payers to access BBC iPlayer while they are on holiday in the EU, and welcome the European Commission proposing regulation to help make this possible,” read a BBC statement.

The Beeb added, however, that the UK government must also follow suit and modernise the licence fee to include video-on-demand as well as linear viewing – something that the Conservatives have said they will look into in 2016.

Combined with the lifting of roaming mobile phone charges, 2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for Europe and European citizens in terms of lifting further borders and removing the costs of travelling and working abroad. That is, of course, if the UK is still in the EU by that point.