Why the EU wants 20% of Netflix content to be European

- Leadership - May 27, 2016

The European Commission has told the likes of Netflix and Amazon that its bank of content to stream must be at least 20 percent European in origin.

As part of its Digital Single Market strategy, the European Union’s most powerful body presented an updated Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD); the common rules which have governed audiovisual media, ensured cultural diversity and the free circulation of content in the EU for almost 30 years.

In short, it wants to encourage European content creation and create a better balance of programmes available through on demand channels, levelling the field with regards to the rules that also apply to traditional broadcasters.

Nowadays viewers do not only watch video content via their TV channels but also increasingly via video-on-demand services (such as Netflix and MUBI) and video-sharing platforms (such as YouTube and Dailymotion). This is why the Commission wants to achieve a better balance of the rules which today apply to traditional broadcasters, video-on-demand providers and video-sharing platforms.

The revised AVMSD is also intended to strengthen the promotion of European cultural diversity, ensures the independence of audiovisual regulators and gives more flexibility to broadcasters over advertising.

Currently, European TV broadcasters invest around 20 percent of their revenues in original content and on-demand providers less than one percent. The Commission wants TV broadcasters to continue to dedicate at least half of viewing time to European works and will oblige on-demand providers to ensure at least 20 percent share of European content in their catalogues. The proposal also clarifies that Member States are able to ask on-demand services available in their country to contribute financially to Europeans works.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "I want online platforms and the audiovisual and creative sectors to be powerhouses in the digital economy, not weigh them down with unnecessary rules. They need the certainty of a modern and fair legal environment: that is what we are providing today.

“This means not changing existing rules that work, such as those related to the liability of online service providers. It also means deregulating where necessary for traditional sectors like broadcasting, or extending certain obligations to platforms and other digital players to improve user protection and to reach a level-playing field."

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Read the May 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine.

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