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Month: March 2020

Mutatjuk, melyek Európa legjobb pályaudvarai

Első ízben rangsorolták Európa legjobb vasúti pályaudvarait. A Consumer Choice Center felmérése szerint az öreg kontinens leginkább utasbarát pályaudvara a londoni St. Pancras lett.

A felmérés Európa leginkább utasbarát pályaudvaraira volt kíváncsi, a tízes olyan szempontok alapján állt össze, mint a létesítmény tisztasága, az átszállási lehetőségek, a peronok zsúfoltsága, valamint a kiegészítő lehetőségek mennyisége és színvonala. 

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The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

‘We need to create a real single market for savings’

Only a fraction of Europeans invest in stocks, while American consumers are a lot more likely to get involved in financial markets. The European Union could make strategic regulatory changes to change this for the better

With historically low interest rates, Europeans look at their savings accounts with warranted frustration. Investments in commodities are traditionally popular, particularly in times of economic uncertainty, but there is only so much that the purchase of a few ounces of gold can do for European consumers. Comparatively, stocks don’t’ have widespread appeal with consumers. The reasons for that are not cultural.

Less than 15% of Europeans (often merely 1% in Central and Eastern Europe, 15% in Germany, up to 40% in the Netherlands invest directly or indirectly in stocks. By contrast, up to half of American households have purchased stocks directly or equity through funds, most of the time as a long-term saving commitment. One reason is that while working with financial services across state lines is seemingless in the United States (think the federal 401k retirement accounts scheme), Europe is on a higher level of complication. The S&P 500 Index had an average annual growth performance of 8%. Most Europeans can only dream of such annual yields that double ones investment every nine years. The compound effects of this are even more significant. If a 29-year-old invests €40,000 at such an annual performance rate in stocks, she has €640,000 at age 65 and that does not even include additional cash injections into her investment account. For comparison the average wealth of adults in Western Europe is around €250,000 (with a much lower median wealth).

But when we think of “investors” or buying and trading stocks in Europe, we picture wealthy individuals and large corporations. But in fact, lower middle-class consumers can have their share in the world economy, and guarantee themselves long-term growth, if we ease the burdens on them purchasing stocks. Instead of propagating fear, legislators and regulators should embrace small-scale private investments, and provide consumers with information. For too long, we have seen investors painted with a broad brush. Only in popular shows such as Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den have investors anywhere near the necessary appeal towards the broader public, while in parliaments across Europe, the mere word is side-eyed with suspicion.

The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) of the European Union is looking at an upcoming overhaul. Private investment should be facilitated, not made harder through regulatory changes. Legislators should create a real single market for stock and fund investments and lower the barriers for companies offering stocks and exchange traded funds (ETF) directly to consumers.

Historically stock markets have outperformed and other kinds of saving schemes. Right now only a small faction of Europeans benefits from high single digit growth of their retirement savings. European policy makers should endorse a shareholder culture through smart regulation and stop bashing capital markets as these can deliver wealth for a broad share of European savers.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

DIE GENTECHNIK ALS SPALTPILZ DER GRÜNEN BEWEGUNG

Die Frage, ob Gentechnik eine wunderbare Verheißung moderner Molekularbiologie oder Teufelszeug ist, macht einen grundlegenden Riss durch die grüne Bewegung deutlich. Verbände wie Greenpeace, der Bund des Umwelt- und Naturschutzes, die sogenannten “Friends of the Earth” sowie mehrheitlich die Partei Bündnis 90/die Grünen sind gegen den Einsatz von genmanipuliertem Saatgut. Teile der Grünen Jugend jedoch stellen sich neuerdings auf die Seite des europäischen Bauernverbands sowie der Mehrheit der Gentechnik-Forscher, die sich für den Einsatz stark machen. Die Spaltung der Öko-Bewegung in Gegner und Befürworter der Gentechnik ist aber mehr als eine Detailfrage über das beste Vorgehen in der modernen Landwirtschaft: Hier offenbaren sich zwei Weltbilder innerhalb des ökologischen Denkens, die miteinander kollidieren und nicht vereinbar sind. Entweder nämlich, man glaubt an den technischen Fortschritt, an die Vernunftfähigkeit des Menschen und an die Findigkeit kreativen Unternehmertums oder man sieht das Leben in der Moderne als grundsätzlich negativ an, mit seiner bedrohlichen allmächtigen Technik und seiner ausgedehnten Massenproduktion. Technik oder Verzicht, wird damit zur Zukunftsfrage der jungen Generation, nicht nur in der Klimafrage. Es gibt Hoffnung, dass sich die technikfreundliche, positive Sicht auf die Moderne innerhalb der Grünen durchsetzen könnte.

Hauke Köhn von der Grünen Jugend Hannover brachte im Herbst letzten Jahres einen Antrag bei der Grünen Jugend Niedersachsen zum Erfolg, der sich für die Verwendung der Gentechnik in der Landwirtschaft ausspricht. Der Antrag fordert nichts weniger, als auf wissenschaftlicher Basis anzuerkennen, dass Gentechnik viele Vorteile für die Gesellschaft biete. Die Risiken seien hingegen überschaubar und politisch beherrschbar. Mit dieser Position ist Köhn seither nicht nur beliebt bei seinen Parteigenossen. Wie er gegenüber der “ZEIT” äußerte, habe “bei manchen Grünen-Treffen Eiseskälte geherrscht, wenn das Thema aufkam, bei anderen wurde es hitzig.” Zu tief sitzen die Vorurteile gegenüber der Gentechnik, die NGOs wie Greenpeace seit Jahren systematisch schüren.

Gentechnik habe seine Versprechen „seit jeher gebrochen“, heißt es beispielsweise auf der Internetseite der grünen Friedenswächter. Durch die „Verwendung von genmanipuliertem Saatgut konnten keine Ertragssteigerungen erzielt werden und der Pestizideinsatz steigt mittelfristig sogar an“, heißt es dort. Mit der Redlichkeit dieser Aussagen nehmen es die Aktivisten wohl nicht ganz so genau. Auf den ersten Blick stimmt es zwar: In den meisten Fällen steigert der Einsatz von Gen-Mais nicht die Ernte des Maises. Aber – und das verschweigt Greenpeace seinen Anhängern lieber – es senkt die Kosten für die Maisproduktion erheblich, weil die Pflanzen resistent gegen Schädlinge sind und daher weniger Schädlingsbekämpfungsmittel eingesetzt werden müssen. Der Einsatz von genmanipuliertem Saatgut konnte bisher den Ertrag um bis zu 28% erhöhen und weitere Erfolge sind wahrscheinlich. Genau das passt Greenpeace aber nicht. In einem eigenen Dossier zu dem Thema heißt es, dass „genmanipulierte Pflanzen das Modell der industriellen Landwirtschaft zementieren, das globalen Märkten zwar Güter in großen Mengen liefert, die Weltbevölkerung aber nicht ernähren kann.“

Und genau das ist für Greenpeace des Pudels eigentlicher Kern. Die Landwirtschaft an sich ist böse, weil sie industriell und global agiert. Es stimmt: Unterernährung und Hunger wird es auch mit der Gentechnik noch geben, aber das liegt nicht an der bösen Landwirtschaft, sondern daran, dass Bürgerkriege, korrupte Regime und Unterentwicklung nicht durch Gentechnik allein behoben werden können. Nicht nur in der Frage der Agrarwirtschaft offenbart sich ein unwissenschaftliches Weltbild. Auch in der Frage der Gesundheit und der Risiken der Gentechnik bleiben viele Aktivisten faktenresistent. Greenpeace behauptet etwa in einem düsteren Untertitel zum Thema Gentechnik, dass “[d]er Einsatz der Gentechnik unkalkulierbare Risiken [birgt]. Mensch und Natur dürfen nicht zu Versuchskaninchen der Agrarkonzerne werden.” Die Wissenschaft aber konnte bisher keine dieser angeblich unkalkulierbaren Risiken ausfindig machen.

2010 gab die EU-Kommission ein Kompendium aus über 10 Jahren Forschung heraus, welches zu dem Ergebnis kommt, dass Gentechnik keine nachweisbaren Risiken für die Umwelt in sich trage. Auch in einer Bilanz des deutschen Bildungsministeriums aus dem Jahre 2014, nach 25 Jahren Forschungsarbeit und über 130 Projekten und 300 Millionen Euro geflossenem Steuergeld, heißt es dazu, “dass Gentechnik an sich keine größeren Risiken als konventionelle Methoden der Pflanzenzüchtung birgt.” Doch den Gegnern der Gentechnik können noch so viele Studien vorgelegt werden, belehren lassen sie sich trotzdem nicht.

Wie der Philosoph Stefan Blancke, von der Universität Gent, in einem Interview mit ZDF-Heute treffend feststellte, fällt die Panikmache vor der Gentechnik bei den meisten Menschen deshalb auf fruchtbaren Boden, weil sie Vorurteile und Naturbilder bedient, die uns intuitiv einleuchten, die aber, wissenschaftlich gesehen, weit vor das darwinistische Zeitalter zurückreichen. Die meisten Bürger würden zum Beispiel glauben, “dass alle Organismen eine Art universellen ‚Kern‘ besitzen. Einen ‚Kern‘, der diesen Organismus ausmacht, quasi definiert.“ Und daher würden in einer US-Studie Befragte nicht wissen, ob in eine Tomate implantierte Fisch-DNA die Tomate nach Fisch schmecken lässt. Das ist natürlich Unsinn, wussten aber weniger als 40 Prozent.

Solche Vorurteile führen dann dazu, dass sich knapp 80 Prozent der Deutschen in einer Umfrage des Umweltministeriums aus dem Jahr 2017 ohne erfindliche Gründe gegen die Gentechnik aussprechen. Wenige politische Fragen erreichen solch eindeutige Urteile der Öffentlichkeit. Was gerade bei diesem Thema besorgniserregend ist, da die meisten Befragten offensichtlich wenig bis keine Kenntnisse der Gentechnik besaßen. Zu der Angst, nicht mehr kontrollieren zu können, was wir über Geneingriffe erschaffen, komme, laut Blancke, die Angst hinzu, sich mit Mutter Natur anzulegen. Wir würden immer noch zu einem sogenannten zweckgetriebenen Denken neigen, das allen Naturereignissen eine bestimmte Absicht unterstelle. In dieser Sicht seien Pflanzen dazu da, uns zu ernähren, Regen, um die Erde zu bewässern und Gewitter, um uns zu erschrecken. Blancke dazu: „Gentechnik ist da plötzlich das Böse, das die Pläne von ‚Mutter Natur‘ durchkreuzt. Nicht umsonst gibt es den Begriff ‚Frankenfood‘. Die Botschaft ist klar: Legen wir uns mit ‚Mutter Natur‘ an, rufen wir gewaltige Katastrophen hervor.“

Es ist nur zu hoffen, dass sich die Sicht des 21-Jährigen Junggrünen Hauke Köhn in Zukunft durchsetzt, der in seinem Antrag mutig schreibt: “In jedem Fall können die pauschalen Vorwürfe, die gegenüber der grünen Gentechnik bestehen, nicht aufrechterhalten werden. Es sind durchaus ökologisch nachhaltige GVO vorstellbar, die gegenüber konventionellen Agrarpflanzen große Vorteile hegen.” Ergänzen müsste man noch, dass solche GVO (Gentechnisch veränderte Organismen) nicht nur vorstellbar sind, sondern schon täglich genutzt und weltweit gebraucht werden.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

The Brexit boost for British bio-science

World-class laboratories have been freed from the dead hand of Brussels regulation

Britain is really good at biology. In physics and chemistry, or painting and music, we have often failed to match the Germans, the French or the Italians. But in the bio-sciences, nobody can equal us. Here’s an astonishing list of firsts that happened on this damp island: William Harvey and the circulation of the blood. Robert Hooke and the cell. Edward Jenner and vaccines. Charles Darwin and natural selection. Alexander Fleming and antibiotics. Francis Crick and James Watson (and Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins) and the structure of DNA. Fred Sanger and DNA sequencing. Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards and the first test-tube baby. Alec Jeffreys and DNA fingerprinting. Ian Wilmut and Dolly the Sheep. The biggest single contribution to the sequencing of the human genome (the Wellcome Trust).

Annoyingly, the exciting new tool of genome editing is the one that got away. The best of the new tools, known as CRISPR, emerged from the work of a Spaniard, Francisco Mojica, who first spotted some odd sequences in a microbe’s genome that seemed to be part of a toolkit for defeating viruses. Then a few years ago French, American, Finnish, Dutch and Chinese scientists turned this insight into a device for neatly snipping out specific sequences of DNA from a genome in any species, opening up the prospect of neatly rewriting DNA to prevent disease or alter crops. Two American universities are squabbling over the patents (and Nobel prize hopes). Further improvements are coming thick and fast.

But we are well placed to catch up with superb labs straining at the leash to apply these new tools. The biggest immediate opportunity is in agriculture, and here leaving the European Union is absolutely key. There is no clearer case of a technology in which we will be held back if we do not break free from the EU approach. It would not be a race to the bottom in terms of safety and environmental standards, but the very opposite: a race to the top.

For example, if we allowed the genetically modified blight-resistant potatoes that have been developed at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norfolk to be grown in fields here in the UK, we would be able to greatly reduce the spraying of fungicides on potato fields, which at present happens up to 15 times a year, harming biodiversity and causing lots of emissions from tractors. That would be a big improvement, not a regression, in environmental terms. But at the moment commercialising the Sainsbury Lab potato is in practice impossible because of onerous EU rules.

Other countries are already dashing ahead with the new technology. Last year a review of the patenting of CRISPR products in agriculture found that, whereas America had taken out 872 patent families and China 858, the European Union had taken out only 194. The gap is growing.

The reason is nothing to do with the quality of research in Europe. It is all about regulation. When genome editing first came along, the European Commission decided to delay for several years making up its mind about how to regulate the release of genome-edited organisms while it waited for the European Court of Justice to decide whether to treat this new technology as if it were like genetic modification (the process invented a generation ago for transferring genes between species) or a form of mutation breeding (the process invented two generations ago for randomly scrambling the genes of plants under gamma rays in the hopes of generating better varieties).

If it was like genetic modification, then it would be subject to draconian rules that amount to a de-facto ban. Nobody even tries to commercialise a GMO crop in Europe any more because you enter a maze of delay, obfuscation, uncertainty, expense and red tape from which you never emerge.

The result is that European agriculture is more dependent on chemical sprays than it would have otherwise been, as shown by research at Gottingen University: on average, GMOs have reduced the application of pesticides to crops wherever they have been grown by 37 per cent. So we have missed out on biological solutions and had to stick with chemical ones instead.

If on the other hand genome editing is like mutation breeding, then you can go ahead and plant a crop straight away here with no restrictions. This is, of course, mad, since mutation breeding is more likely (though still very unlikely) to produce an accidentally harmful result even than GMOs, but it’s an older technique and has been used for much of the food you eat, including organic food, and for some reason nobody at Greenpeace objects.

Genome editing is an even more precise and predictable technique than GMOs. It involves no transfer of foreign DNA and the incision is made at a specific location in a genome, not at random. It is clearly the safest of all these three techniques, and so said the European Court’s advocate general in his advice to the court. But in July 2018 the ECJ, being a political entity, decided otherwise and told the commission what it wanted to hear, that it should treat genome-edited plants and animals as if they were GMOs.

There was fury and dismay throughout the laboratories of Europe. There would have been more in Britain if academics had not feared playing into the hands of Brexiteers while remaining was still a possibility. A Canadian biotech professor tweeted that this was a good day for Canada since it removed a competitor continent from the scene. The absurdity is illustrated by the fact that in some cases it is impossible to distinguish a genome-edited variety from a variety bred by hybridisation or lucky selection with the same trait. Stefan Jansson from Umeå University in Sweden put it like this: “Common sense and scientific logic says that it is impossible to have two identical plants where growth of one is, in reality, forbidden while the other can be grown with no restrictions; how would a court be able to decide if the cultivation was a crime or not?”

Brexit therefore offers a fantastic opportunity to do something no European continental competitor is effectively allowed to do, and that will benefit the environment. We have great laboratories here, in Norwich, Nottingham, Rothamsted and Edinburgh among other places. But the private sector of plant biotechnology is all but extinct in Britain and will take some jump-starting.

Twenty years ago there were 480 full-time equivalent, PhD-level, private sector jobs in agricultural biotechnology in this country. Today there are just ten. That is what has happened to that whole sector in this country as a result of the misinformed and misguided green campaign against GMOs. Until politicians signal a sea change, the private sector will shun the UK’s wonderful labs and the breakthroughs will be applied overseas, if at all.

As a new online tool called the Global Gene Editing Regulation Tracker has shown, America, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Japan and much of the rest of the world are moving towards a nimbler and more rational regulatory approach: namely judging a crop not by the method used to produce it, but by the traits it possesses. If you can make a potato resistant to blight, what matters is whether the potato is safe, not whether it was made by conventional breeding, gamma-ray mutagenesis or genome editing.

In the EU, if you made this potato by gamma-ray mutation breeding, scrambling its DNA at random in a nuclear reactor, the regulations would say: “No problem. Go ahead and plant it.” If you made it by the far more precise method of genome editing, in which you know exactly what you have done and have confined your activities to one tiny bit of DNA, you are plunged into a Kafkaesque labyrinth of regulatory indecision and expense. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, on which I sit, recommended we switch to regulation by trait, a few years back but it was not possible before Brexit.

Genome editing can bring not just environmental benefits but animal welfare benefits too. In 2017, scientists at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh announced that they had genome-edited pigs to protect them against a virus called porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, PRRS. They used CRISPR to cut out a short section from the pig gene that made the protein through which the virus gained access to cell. The change therefore denied the virus entry. They did this without altering the function of the protein made by the gene, so the animal grew up to be normal in every way except that it was immune to the disease.

This means less vaccination, less medication and less suffering. What is not to like? (Incredibly, when I mentioned this case in a speech in the House of Lords, a Green Party peer objected that eradicating a disease that causes suffering in pigs might be a bad thing in case it allows a change in pig husbandry techniques. Even Marie Antoinette was never quite that callous.) But commercialising that animal in the UK is currently all but impossible until we change the rules.

Genome-editing technology could revolutionise conservation as well as agriculture. Looking far ahead into much more speculative science, the same scientists at the Roslin who made the virus-resistant pigs are now looking into how to control grey squirrels not by killing them, as we do now, but by using genome editing to spread infertility infectiously through the population, so that the population slowly declines while squirrels live happily into old age.

This technique, called gene drive, could transform the practice of conservation all around the world, especially the control of invasive alien species — the single greatest cause of extinction among birds and mammals today. We could eliminate the introduced mosquitos on Hawaii whose malaria is slowly exterminating the native honeycreeper birds. We could get rid of the non-native rats and goats on the Galapagos which are destroying the habitat of tortoises and birds.

We could get rid of the signal crayfish from America that have devastated many British rivers. For those who worry that gene drive might run riot, there is a simple answer: it can and will be designed in each case to last for a certain number of generations, not forever. And it will be wholly species-specific, so it cannot affect, say, the native red squirrel.

Still more futuristically, genome editing may one day allow the de-extinction of the great auk and the passenger pigeon. To achieve this, we need to take four steps: to sequence the DNA of an extinct species, which we have done in the case of the great auk; to edit the genome of a closely related species in ​the lab, which is not yet possible but may not be far off as genome editing techniques improve by leaps and bounds; to turn a cell into an adult animal, which is difficult, but possible through primordial germ cell transfer, again pioneered at the Roslin Institute; and to train the adults for living in the wild, which is hard work but possible.

Genome editing is also going to have implications for human medicine. Here the European Union is less of a problem, and home-grown regulation is already in good shape: cautious and sensibly applied under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Britain has already licensed the first laboratory experiments, at the Crick Institute, on the use of genome editing in human embryos, but this is for research into infertility, not for making designer babies.

There is universal agreement that germ-line gene editing to produce human beings with new traits must remain off-limits and be considered in future only for the elimination of severe disease, not for the enhancement of normal talents. This view is shared around the world: the Chinese rogue scientist He Jiankui, who claims he used CRISPR to make two babies HIV-resistant from birth, was sentenced to three years in prison last December.

In practice, fears about designer babies are somewhat exaggerated. The same issue comes up about once a decade with every new breakthrough in biotechnology. It was raised about artificial insemination in the 1970s, about in-vitro fertilisation in the 1980s, about cloning in the 1990s and about gene sequencing in the 2000s. Indeed, it has been possible to choose or selectively implant sperm, eggs and embryos with particular genes for a long time now and yet demand remains stubbornly low.

Most people do not want to use IVF or sperm donation to have the babies of clever or athletic people, as they easily could, but to have their own babies: the technology has been used almost exclusively as a cure for infertility. Indeed, the more we find out about genomes, the harder it becomes to imagine anybody wanting to, let alone being able to, enhance specific traits in future children by fiddling with genes: there are just too many genes, each with only very small effects, interacting with each other in the creation of any particular behaviour or ability.

Imagine walking into a doctor’s clinic and being presented with a catalogue of expensive genetic changes that could be made to your future baby’s genes, each of which might have a tiny and uncertain effect. The truth is most people do not want to have especially clever or sporty offspring: they want children like themselves.

However, in contrast to germ-line gene editing, somatic genome editing will play a large part in medicine. It is already happening, for example in a process known as CAR-T cell therapy, in which an immune cell is genome-edited so that it will attack a specific tumour, then multiplied and injected back into the body as a form of live drug. If we encourage genome editing in Britain we will be in a position to cure some cancers, enhance agricultural yield, improve the nutrient quality of food, protect crops from pests without using chemicals, eradicate animal diseases, enhance animal welfare, encourage biodiversity and maybe bring back the red squirrel. If we do not, then China, America, Japan and Argentina will still push ahead with this technology and will follow their own priorities, leaving us as supplicants to get the technology second-hand.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

4 million consumers, 1 policy victory!

#CHEGADEBARREIRAS


The Issue

In 2011, the former President of Brazil – Lula – signed a law prohibiting telecommunications companies from owning at the same time both the production and distribution of audiovisual content in Brazil.

Unreasonable and undermining the freedom of the consumers choice from the beginning, this law also did not follow the evolution of streaming technologies and the growth of digital media distribution markets.

The integration of telecommunications, advertising, TV operators, internet giants and the entire digital world is a clear and growing trend all over the world, but in Brazil, the synergy of those markets was prevented from deepening due to unclear and anti-consumer choice regulations.

Fast forward to 2019 and the archaic regulation of the Brazilian TELCO market got even worse, threatening to have channels belonging to TimeWarner (p.e Warner Channel) cancelled due to its merger with AT&T (which, in Brazil, controls Sky – the PayTv Provider). The group FOX was also prohibited of selling its channels, programs and other products directly to the consumer.

Observing since the beginning the threat to free market and consumer choice on the Pay Tv market in Brazil, the Consumer Choice Center was called to act by the Brazilian consumers. We believed it was important that policymakers and the laws itself should have adapted to a new, digital world and implemented strategies and structures that made room for the digital markets, giving more freedom of choice to the consumers.

CCC’s Response

Back in June 2019, the Consumer Choice Center started mobilizing consumers and the civil society with the Chega De Barreiras campaign, which brought together online and in-person media strategies.

The landing page Chegadebarreiras.org contained information about the issue to the general public. Our policy paper “How to Prepare Brazil for a Digital Future?” was distributed among policymakers in Brasilia and other stakeholders. Social media posts and videos were created to mobilize and create empathy from consumers.

We successfully showed consumers in Brazil that their freedom of choice in particular their freedom to choose what and where to watch content was being threatened by a outdated law that did not fit the current model of digital market and content distribution. The campaign resonated with millions of people.

In addition to targeting and mobilizing consumers, our Managing Director Fred Roeder and our Brazilian Affairs Manager Andre Freo visited Brasilia, and they spoke with dozens of congressmen and members of the regulatory agency ANATEL arguing about the importance of repealing article 5 of the SEAC law (Audiovisual Communication Services Conditioned to Access Law) and the benefits for consumers and the free market. They spoke with deputies, senators and advisers of the Regulatory Agency, presenting the report and the barriers that the bureaucracy of the law created for the very development of the production and commercialization of audiovisual content in Brazil.

The Impact

Due to the work of the Consumer Choice, the Chega de Barreiras campaign reached more than 4 million people, with a high level of engagement. Our message resonated with consumers in Brazil.

This victory was consolidated in early February, when, in a historic voting, ANATEL’s board of directors relaxed the law and allowed the merger and operation of TimeWarner & AT&T in Brazil ruling it was not against Article 5 of the SeAC Law, opening precedent for new similar rulings on this subject.

Finally after 8 months of consumer activism, the Consumer Choice Center managed to be an integral part of this change ensuring that consumers in Brazil continued to have access to quality and diverse audiovisual content and even opening space for Brazil to break down more barriers to a bigger, better and stronger free market.

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