On July 11 Georgian National Communication Commission will consider the complaint of Magti launched against Silknet and Caucasus Online. Magti demands that the two companies are prohibited the service of pause and rewinding. What is the response of Silknet against the accusation of Magti, and what kind of contracts has the company with broadcasters and what the company’s vision of the solution-Media.Ge tried to find out from the Commercial Director of Silknet:
-Magti believes that by providing the service of pause-rewinding to the customers, Silknet violates the Law on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, as broadcasters themselves are entitled to determine the time when and how to provide programs to the viewers. But the customers’ being able to pause and rewind means that they can determine the time of watching a program at will. What is your answer to that accusation?
- First of all I want to stress that we have negotiated appropriate contracts with all the channels, which entitles us to provide the service of pause and rewind to the customers.
Besides, the law was written at the time when there was no IPTV in the country. Many things are obscure, and it isn’t clearly pointed out what rights we’re required to have in order to provide all the IPTV services to the customers. We decided to follow the international experience and negotiated the contracts in accordance with it.
- Do your contracts with channels contain a condition enabling you to rewind programming?
- There are two types of agreement with a broadcaster. First is when a contract itself contains such condition, and according to the second type of agreement, additional official documents and letters enable us to provide the aforementioned service.
We cannot rewind all the channels of our package only due to the fact that we don’t have permission of doing that from the companies those channels belong to. Such channels made up about 15% of our package.
- Magti specifies in the complaint that they had obtained from the Commission the information on the contracts made between Silknet and broadcasters, and the contracts say that you don’t have permission to provide the service of pause and rewind.
-We’ re the company which has negotiated those contracts and obtained the necessary permission. So I have no idea what contract is Magti talking about.
- Broadcasters usually pay great sums to show sport matches and some other events, and how fair it is when the customers can at will rewind during such programs, what do you think?
- It’s not about fairness. Broadcasters don’t have any claims on us. And today a sort of third party is trying to come into play with the ambition of taking its place on the market, but without facilities necessary to provide the same service.
If a broadcaster buys certain rights which we allegedly violate by rewinding, that means that the companies must have claims on us.
- You mean televisions don’t have that sort of claims on you?
No, never. When a broadcaster, say, buys the right of broadcasting a match, it is as well agreed thereupon, that it will be broadcasting through IPTV so rewinding will be possible.
Our basic goal is to be in compliance with the law. Having founded the television, we then negotiated contracts with all the broadcasters and paid considerable amount of money in order to obtain the right of broadcasting. We were one of the initiators of legally broadcasting channels to the viewers.
- You’ve mentioned the legislative basis, what changes do you think should be made to it in order to aid the development of IPTV?
- Current legislation on the transit providers is outdated. The rights must be specified in detail in the direction of IPTV
- What’s the reason of Magti’s contention with you?
- I believe that when cable operators are enable to provide the customers the service we do, they resort to something like that. It is an attempt on their part to slow down our progress in order to become more competitive on market.
Nobody interferes with one another. Let Magti come and realize the investments necessary to acquire the ability to provide such service. It took us a pretty penny to implement the service, this was a multimillion project.
- Have you studied the way the similar broadcasting is regulated in Europe?
- IPTV is a new technology not only for us, but also for Europe. The process of its regulation is underway in many countries. You cannot just develop a legislation with a mere flick of a magic stick. It is a subject of contention in many countries, as there is a variety of rewinding methods. There are many nuances that must be pointed out. Yet in none of those countries an operator have been deprived the right of providing the service of rewinding.
This is a technological progress for a country and no one must hamper it. The law must be put to the service of progress and not vice versa.
- What do you think is the best solution to the process?
- The issue in on the agenda which means the legislative basis needs to be refined, so that one has a clear vision of what’s necessary in order to produce such service. The next step is to monitor the operators that work in this direction.