Threat to “cultural diversity”: European Union considers reducing influence of British productions

An internal document obtained by The Guardian newspaper highlights the disproportionate presence of British content after Brexit on European television, video on demand, and streaming platforms.

After the departure of the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU) is considering reducing the “disproportionate” amount of British films and series available on European television channels, video on demand (VOD) and streaming services, which may cease to be classified. them as “European works”.

Although the UK is still on the board of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT), an internal EU document distributed to member state diplomats on June 8 and obtained by The Guardian newspaper confirms its intention to act against the disproportionate influence of British productions on the European television market, described as a threat to “cultural diversity”.

A European directive on audiovisual media services, passed last year, stipulates that terrestrial TV channels must display a majority of European content and VOD and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon at least 30% (some countries with France stands out, they increase this share to 60% and demand that 15% of revenues be invested in the production of European projects).

With Brexit, these calculations are complicated because the UK was the largest film and television producer in the EU and represented at least half of that 30%.

“The high availability of UK content on VOD services, in addition to the privileges guaranteed to them by qualifying as European works, could result in a disproportionate presence of British programming within the European share of video on demand and be an impediment to a greater variety of European works (including from smaller countries and lesser-spoken languages). Thus, disproportionality may affect the fulfillment of the goals of promoting European works and cultural diversity pursued by the audiovisual media services directive”, quotes the newspaper of the document.

The European Commission will study the risk of British audiovisual content to this “cultural diversity”, which diplomatic sources say is a first step towards limiting its status after Brexit.

This decision would have a huge impact on British industry as many productions, such as “The Crown” and, before, “Downton Abbey”, are financed by pre-sales of international rights: of a total value of 1.4 billion pounds, 490 million went to European and VOD channels in 2019-2020, the second-largest market after the US.

According to EU sources, the initiative could go even further in January, when France takes over the rotating EU Council presidency and receives support from Spain, Greece, Italy, and Austria, among other countries.

According to sources, the revision of the directive, scheduled for within three years, may be the time for the changes to be put into practice.

Source: with Agencies

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