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April 11, 2024 2:05 PM

How To Build An In-car Entertainment Platform According To The Latest Regulations

“The German media regulator's recent rulings are reshaping the in-car entertainment landscape. By classifying these systems as media platforms, automakers must now ensure fair content discoverability and representation, mirroring regulations in the broadcast industry.”

In-car entertainment systems are evolving rapidly, driven by technology and regulation. No longer solely a domain of curated audio and basic navigation, these systems have become sophisticated multimedia hubs, mirroring the content richness and interactivity consumers expect from their personal devices.

This technological evolution creates an imperative for regulatory oversight, and recent decisions by the Die Kommission für Zulassung und Aufsicht (ZAK) send a clear signal to the carmakers. ZAK's classification of in-car entertainment systems as media platforms and user interfaces places them firmly under the jurisdiction of the German Medienstaatsvertrag (Interstate Media Treaty). Automakers now face the complex challenge of ensuring "media variety" – the non-discriminatory representation of diverse content providers – while adhering to strict guidelines for content discovery and presentation within their vehicles. But it is not only Germany who will apply these regulations, but other countries might follow.

How Germany Regulates In-Car Entertainment

In April 2024, ZAK classified the in-car entertainment systems from Audi, BMW/Mini and Tesla as user interfaces. The ZAK also classifies the “Tesla Media Player” as a media platform. The German Interstate Media Treaty, a comprehensive legal framework governing media and telecommunications, sets forth specific requirements for automakers seeking to integrate advanced in-car entertainment systems.  

A key focus is ensuring fair and equitable access to content from a diversity of sources. "Media variety" provisions within the treaty mandate that automakers must implement systems facilitating non-discriminatory discoverability of audio and video content. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Public Service Broadcasters: German regulations prioritize the discoverability of public service media offerings within in-car entertainment systems.
  • App Neutrality: Automotive infotainment interfaces cannot give preferential placement or visibility to specific content providers, particularly when this preferencing is commercially motivated.
  • Adaptability: Regulatory requirements may stipulate adjustments in content presentation (e.g., prioritizing certain media types based on vehicle status or local regulations). Systems must be flexible enough to accommodate updates driven by regulatory amendments.

What will be the Global Impact

The ZAK's decision to classify in-car entertainment systems as media platforms and user interfaces establishes a precedent within the European Union and likely beyond. As connected vehicle technology becomes more prevalent globally, regulators in other jurisdictions may follow suit, instituting similar oversight. This has the potential to create a patchwork of regional regulations governing in-car content distribution and discovery. Automakers and their technology partners will need to design strategies that accommodate both localized regulatory demands and a consistent user experience across borders.

In-Car Entertainment Regulatory Compliance with 3Ready

Recognizing the increasingly intricate regulatory landscape for in-car entertainment, 3Ready Product Framework offers automotive OEMs a future-proof foundation for navigating compliance complexities. At its core, the 3SS approach prioritizes content aggregation and flexible interface design, cross-platform OS compatibilities, enabling automotive OEMs to meet regulatory demands without compromising user experience.

  • Content Aggregation and Neutrality: 3Ready provides diverse audio and video content sources, encompassing both public funded service broadcasters and Streaming Services. 3Ready back-end management tools allow for the categorization and labeling of content assets, facilitating adherence to fair representation requirements stipulated in regulations like the German Medienstaatsvertrag.
  • Entertainment Hub: Unified and Adaptable Discovery: 3Ready Control Center, our unified content management tool, functions as the central access point for all integrated content. Using configurable interface elements, carmakers can create intuitive discovery experiences that adhere to regional content presentation guidelines. Control Center's modular and template structure enables rapid UI adjustments in response to regulatory shifts, minimizing the need for costly and time-consuming vehicle software updates.
  • The Adaptability Advantage: Regulations governing in-car entertainment systems are likely to remain in flux as connected vehicle technology proliferates. 3SS's focus on agile interface development empowers carmakers to iteratively refine their in-car content experiences. This proactive approach to regulatory compliance ensures seamless consumer interactions while mitigating disruptions to the core automotive software stack.

3SS's expertise in in-car entertainment systems extends beyond innovative UI design and content aggregation. Our deep roots in the broadcast television industry provide a distinct advantage for automotive clients. Broadcast television has long been subject to stringent regulations, encompassing content diversity, advertising placement, accessibility standards, and more. We have successfully navigated these complexities together with our clients, developing systems inherently adept at addressing the regulatory demands in content distribution and display.

This experience translates into several key benefits for automotive OEMs:

  • Understanding Regulatory Intent: With more than 15 years of experience in the television industry, 3SS has completed over 400 entertainment projects and helped Pay TV operators reach 68 million users. This depth of experience provides us with an unmatched understanding of the objectives and reasoning behind diverse media regulations. We can proactively align our solutions not just with the letter of the law, but also the intended outcomes regulators aim to achieve.

Conclusion

The regulatory landscape for in-car entertainment is rapidly evolving. Automakers face the challenge of ensuring content diversity, fair discoverability, and compliance with potentially shifting regulations. Failure to adapt can hinder the user experience and lead to costly complications.

3SS is the ideal partner to help you navigate these challenges. Our solutions and deep expertise in regulated media environments ensure compliance today and position you for future success.  

Let's future-proof your in-car entertainment offering. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a demo: https://www.3ss.tv/automotive-entertainment#form