The European Union is looking into how it could reduce the “disproportionate” amount of UK content shown on European television and streaming services in the wake of Brexit.
As per the Guardian, an EU document filed on June 8 cites the ongoing inclusion of UK productions in EU quotas, despite the country no longer being an EU member state, as an unfair privilege that affects “cultural diversity”.
The quotas apply to broadcasters and online services and come under the audiovisual media services directive; they dictate that TV channels must show a majority of European programming, and that VOD platforms must contain at least 30% of such content, though this figure is higher in certain countries.
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At present, Brit shows such as The Crown qualify, allowing the likes of Netflix to fulfil the quotas with those programs. Large-scale UK shows are also often pre-sold into Europe as a key method of raising finance.
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The rules around which countries qualify under the quotas is due to be assessed in three years’ time. If the UK were to be removed from inclusion, i.e. defined as non-European, it could serve as a serious blow to UK producers, with content likely to become less appealing to European broadcasters and streamers that need to meet the necessary criteria.
Tensions remain high over Brexit, from fishing licenses to wind turbines, and any changes to rules around audiovisual content could be acutely felt on Brit shores. The multi-billion-dollar UK film and TV biz receives close to $700M from content sales to Europe per year, a figure that could be affected. Brexit has already been a financing and logistics blow to UK producers.
At present any changes to the directive remain at the discussion stage, but it is thought that France’s taking over of the EU presidency in January next year could kickstart the process, with the country enforcing the strictest content quotas on the continent.
“The high availability of UK content in video on demand services, as well as the privileges granted by the qualification as European works, can result in a disproportionate presence of UK content within the European video on demand quota and hinder a larger variety of European works (including from smaller countries or less spoken languages),” the paper reads. “Therefore the disproportionality may affect the fulfilment of the objectives of promotion of European works and cultural diversity aimed by the audiovisual media services directive.”
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