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This research report was commissioned by the UK communications regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom). The European Commission in December 2005 proposed an Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS), which extends television broadcast regulation to Internet Protocol delivery. The report examines the indirect impacts of the proposal’s regulatory definitions for new multimedia services in the UK and across Europe, and the specific effects of regulation in three case studies: Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), online games and mobile multimedia. The forerunner of the AVMS (the ‘Television without Frontiers’ Directive) affects only licensed broadcasters directly. The AVMS as proposed will affect a very broad range of stakeholders who were regulated by generic regulation such as the E-Commerce Directive. We conclude that the AVMS proposal does not offer firms, particularly the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can be expected to play a major role in driving new media innovation, with sufficient regulatory certainty to encourage investment in European Union (EU) multimedia sectors. This study does not attempt to describe material changes or improvements that could be made to the draft Directive to ameliorate the regulatory impacts identified, but the study does point to the need for greater regulatory certainty as to the scope of the regulation of new services and the need for clear commitment to ‘light touch’ regulatory techniques.

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The research described in this report was prepared for the United Kingdom Office of Communications and was conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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