The French audiovisual watchdog, Arcom, wants Internet users to be more aware of their impact on the environment when they watch videos online. The authority recommends several actions aimed at streaming platforms, video on demand, videos (YouTube) and TV channels.
When you watch a video on the Web, you consume energy and produce greenhouse gas emissions: this is the message that Arcom, the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication, would like to see relayed by platforms that distribute audiovisual content on the Web. According to a recommendation published this Wednesday, September 13 in the Official Journal, the authority wants Internet users to be generally better “ informed of the environmental impact of their consumption (videos) “.
And who better than the providers of this content (television, video-on-demand or streaming platforms, social networks) to preach the good word and remind people of good, less energy-consuming practices? If Arcom targets viewing videos on the Web, it is right. Video streams from streaming and social networks represent almost two thirds of global internet traffic, according to the American company Sandvine cited by the French authority. And according to the third edition of the benchmark for digital uses in France, published last April, Netflix reaches almost 20% (19%) of bandwidth, followed by YouTube (11%).
In order to better inform consumers about the environmental impact of consuming audiovisual content and give them access to solutions, Arcom is publishing a recommendation for audiovisual and digital services. @Arcep @ademe
— Arcom (@Arcom_fr) September 13, 2023
Recommendations and not obligations
And if digital technology only represents 2.5% of the carbon footprint of the French, this figure could be multiplied by three in 2050. To avoid this scenario, the authority lists a certain number of recommendations for these actors which include both TV channels and streaming platforms (Netflix) or videos (YouTube or TikTok). Please note that these are recommendations and not obligations, as provided for in the REEN law (reduction of the digital environmental footprint) of November 15, 2021.
Arcom therefore asks these stakeholders to set up an annual communication campaign. Above all, she asks them to remember good practices. Turning off televisions, internet boxes and decoders when they are not in use, or using the fixed network rather than mobile, can help reduce its digital impact, explains the authority.
The implementation of less energy-consuming settings requested
The digital policeman also recommends the implementation of solutions that are more respectful of the environment and consume less energy. If Arcom does not go so far as to recommend watching less videos on the Web, it recommends “ provide users with an “energy sobriety” type function » accessible only « in one or two clicks », Specifies the latter who does not give further technical details. Platforms can also recommend a setting that would be less energy-intensive, which would include “ including image quality and disabling automatic video playback », Underlines the authority.
All players offering videos on the Web – such as Netflix, YouTube, Canal+, TikTok or Prime Video – must, each year, present to Arcom an assessment of everything they have done to comply with this recommendation . More surprisingly, the authority also recommends that these companies work together to establish a common methodology for calculating the audiovisual impact of audiovisual uses.
Note that originally, the text, a bill from the Senators, was intended to go much further. It was then a matter of prohibiting the automatic launch of videos, of limiting packages with data unlimited and even to force operators to charge prices in relation to the quantity of data consumed. The initiative will ultimately have resulted in recommendations. Will the platforms and TV channels play the game? Answers in a few months.
Arcom recommendation of July 26, 2023, published on September 13, 2023