• Spain's news in English

Could iPlayer access be extended across EU?

Emma Anderson · 6 May 2015, 16:11

Published: 06 May 2015 16:11 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Expats and world-travellers alike are often dogged by this problem on a regular basis as country restrictions block them from listening to a favourite song or watching a show from back home online.

Brits complain that they can’t access the BBC iPlayer outside the UK, even though they may still be contributing toward the broadcaster’s public support. 

And while Netflix currently boasts a portfolio of 41 country sites, it is still not available in Spain, Italy or most of eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

An ambitious plan presented by a European Commission group on Wednesday hopes to address these issues, making some hopeful for a more open, international internet. It also promises to bring in an additional €415 billion to the European GDP.

"Europe needs to change to become competitive again," said EC President Jean-Claude Juncker in a video released by the Commission. "Fragmentation and barriers within our single market are holding digital back."

"You can drive from Tallinn to Turin without once showing your passport, but you can’t stream your favourite TV shows from home once you get there."

But does this mean sites like Netflix could suddenly open its doors to all, including Spain?

Not so fast, say some analysts.

“Unjustified” blocking

The Digital Single Market plan unveiled on Wednesday proposes a range of sweeping and ambitious measures. The plan hopes to, among other things, get rid of “unjustified” geoblocking, or when sites block or redirect users based on their location.

Consumers face geoblocking, for example, when they try to make purchases on a site based in another EU country, but are often either re-routed to a local site with different pricing, or not allowed to make purchases at all.

Another measure is to make copyright laws more streamlined across EU countries, to free up access to content across borders. The plan also seeks to address high charges for package deliveries across borders between countries that are very close.

Some digital rights groups criticized the plan for not doing enough.

The European Digital Rights (EDRi) advocacy group told The Local that many of the report’s measures were "watered down" from original statements.

"Sadly the Commission is not displaying as much ambition as it promised," EDRi executive director Joe McNamee told The Local.

"All in all some measures are not tremendously possible on one hand, but if you consider buying online important and package delivery and geoblocking, then it’s a step in the right direction."

The group noted that the plan calls for getting rid of geoblocking, but that its broad term of "unjustified" geoblocking "means that everything or nothing could be ultimately proposed by the Commission."

While the EDRi said they "welcomed" the Commission’s plans to make copyright provisions more similar across countries, it also said that the report did not give “any indication of what this will mean in practice."

What could this mean for Spain?

The Local asked Facebook users what they would think about an internet without country restrictions. Some complained about online purchases, while others mentioned American TV shows that were blocked in their countries.

One user currently living in Malaga complained that they couldn't view the American political comedy show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Many have long awaited the launch of Netflix in Spain, which was overlooked in the last expansion to countries like Germany and France last year.

Story continues below…

But the process of getting the digital legislation passed at the European Union level and thus allowing Netflix to more easily enter Spain could take three years or more, said McNamee.

"It’s entirely possible that Netflix will achieve that task before then," he told The Local.

Netflix itself has said it doesn’t plan to wait around for the commission to act. CEO Reed Hastings told an audience at a Media Conventions conference on Tuesday that the company will solve the issue of international demand "commercially".

"We can’t wait for the commission, they may or may not pass rules. … We are going to try and solve the problem commercially," he said.

For Brits living in Spain, the BBC offered some glimmer of hope following the release the report. The broadcaster said it would "look into the possibility" of easing restrictions on the online iPlayer feature, which British citizens living abroad currently cannot access.

"We note the Commission's interest in making services more portable to UK users while temporarily travelling in Europe, and will begin work to look at the technical and legislative implications," said a spokesman in a statement.


For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Anderson (emma.anderson@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain’s Socialists lift veto on conservatives
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available