Content regulation

Paris, 21 November 2007

An article in today’s Echos distorted statements I made in my speech at IDATE on Net Neutrality, by presenting them as an ARCEP demand for an extension of its competencies to include content regulation.

This is obviously false. ARCEP has spoken out many times on the issues of converging telecoms/broadcasting regulation and has not changed its position on the subject. It has been my honour to represent these positions on various occasions.

Through the law of 9th July 2004, French legislators clearly separated the functions of network regulation, which was assigned to ARCEP, from the regulation of broadcasting content services, attributed to CSA, thereby establishing a new sharing of roles between CSA and ARCEP. CSA regulates broadcasting content regardless of the medium, while ARCEP is responsible for regulating networks regardless of the content they carry. The regulation culture and the objectives assigned to these two bodies are profoundly different. ARCEP is an economic and competition regulator, while the CSA is a regulator "protecting civil liberties and social cohesion".

The issue raised by the very elliptical excerpt of the draft directives I mentioned, extending the concept of access, is linked not to content regulation, but to the problem of the technical regulation of the Internet chain, and more specifically to the technical regulation of relations between Internet operators and content suppliers’ sites. This issue is particularly weighty in the United States, where operators want sites consuming the most bandwidth to help finance network infrastructures. As I clearly stated, it is related more to questions of peering, and therefore interconnection, than to questions of content access to networks.

In its draft directive, the European Commission may seek to assign competence over this technical chain to national regulators. However, it is currently premature to judge the relevance of this proposal and its future. In any case, ARCEP, through me, does not demand this competency.

I therefore formally refute the presentation of my speech as a demand by ARCEP to extend its competencies to content regulation.

 

Gabrielle Gauthey

ARCEP Member