New 'home-made' EU film quotas on way for Netflix and Amazon
Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30
The EU is to impose geographic film quotas on Netflix, Amazon and other online television broadcasters.
Under a revised Europe-wide legal directive, on-demand film providers will be required to reserve at least 20pc of their catalogue for EU-made movies and television series.
The change is being adopted, says the European Commission, to protect European culture and promote diversity. However, observers say that it is a response to pressure from non-English speaking EU members about the spread of English as the continent's default language.
France and Spain, in particular, have complained about creeping anglicisation.
Under the new rules, large on-demand film providers must now guarantee prominence to EU content.
"It will oblige on-demand providers to ensure that at least 20pc share of European content in their catalogues," said a spokesman for the Commission.
"The proposal also clarifies that member states are able to ask on-demand services available in their country to contribute financially to European works."
At present, Netflix, Amazon and Apple iTunes all exceed a 20pc threshold on EU-made content. However, online companies have reacted to the new directive negatively.
"We appreciate the Commission's objective to have European production flourish," said Joris Evers, a senior Netflix spokesman. "However, the proposed measures won't actually achieve that."
Mr Evers said that Netflix currently had productions under way in all of Europe's biggest countries.
The service's film 'Jadotville', depicting the Congo-based battle where nine Irish peacekeeping troops were killed in 1961, is also being filmed in Ireland.
"Our investment in European programming, including Netflix original titles created in Europe, is growing," said Mr Evers.
The new directive does not specify that the European films should be presented in a particular language, opening the door to increased activity for Irish and British production companies.
However, the European Commission will not yet ban 'geo-blocking' of movie content from one EU country to another. Despite European commissioners condemning the practice of copyright-holders preventing users in one EU country from seeing content in another EU country, there is no official move to restrict the protectionist activity.
The new rules "will ensure that consumers seeking to buy products and services in another EU country, be it online or in person, are not discriminated against in terms of access to prices, sales or payment conditions", according to a European Commission spokesman.
The European Parliament will now review the proposed measures.