Economy

The European Commission to force Amazon and Netflix to respect European Cultural Identity?

The European Commission wants to impose a 20% quota of European made content to the video streaming services

May 30th, 2016
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The European Commission is working on a plan to force video streaming services to devote at least 20% of the catalogues they provide to their EU subscribers to European films and TV shows.

With millions of subscribers in the European Union and almost 100 millions worldwide, Netflix has become a major player to broadcast cultural content. But those contents are overwhelmingly from the USA. To resolve this situation and to promote European made movies and TV shows, the European Commission could soon force video streaming services to offer to their subscribers at least 20% of European cultural contents. This obligation would apply for the number of contents but also to their visibility.

Visiting the Festival de Cannes, Andrus Ansip, the Vice President for the Digital Single Market on the European Commission, declared, “We need to create a fairer playground between those actors and TV channels”. Gunther Oettinger, another Commissioner for the Digital Economy, said, “The way we watch TV or videos may have changed, but our values don’t”. This is an important message sent by Europe to Netflix, Amazon and other actors, that Europe has a cultural specificity that should be developed and largely broadcasted.

However, the impact of this 20% quota is uncertain. Indeed, VOD platforms have the means to buy the broadcasting rights of poor-quality European contents, or just remove from their website the less watched American contents in order to match the 20% quota.

The objective of the European Commission’s project to “have a positive impact on cultural diversity and bring more opportunities for European creators” is noble but for now we can only hope that video streaming services will not find a way to go around it legally.

Netflix stated that it is against the quota but that it is already developing some European original content, such as the TV show Marseille, which is set in France and stars French actors. If Netflix has already shot its first English TV show (The Crown), it is not sure that the European Commission’s plan will increase the number of EU-contents because, according to the Commission, 21% of the films offered by Netflix are classed as being from the EU.

There is still a long way to go for the European Commission’s quota, it needs to go before the European Parliament and the Council of Minister to be adopted, and then it will be up to the local authorities to enforce it.

References:

Cultural Diplomacy News
Gaspard Fontaine, CD News