EU TVs choose European films over Hollywood

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European works are dominating the programme schedules of European television channels, with broadcasters preferring EU films and fictions to Hollywood or other extra-EU TV products, according to a report carried out by the Commission.

The study, published on 25 July, aims to analyse the application of EU rules regulating the audiovisual industry. The cornerstone directive for the sector, entitled ‘Television without Frontiers’, establishes that “where practicable and by appropriate means” EU broadcasters should reserve the majority of their transmission time for European works.

The findings of the report, conducted every two years and now at its eighth edition, confirm the on average correct execution of the rule, with more than 63% of EU programming time devoted to European films and fictions in 2005 and 2006. Only in Slovenia (45%) and in Lithuania (47%) was the transmission time for European works below-target in 2006. In all the other countries, it is in fact much higher than that suggested by the directive, with Poland and Denmark scoring around 81%.

“With the application of the ‘Television without Frontiers’ directive, the EU and the member states are proving their commitment to cultural diversity, which continues to benefit from the major presence of European programming on European TV,” said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

US television products are the most warranted by European broadcasters after EU works, but they are on a downward trend (see also EURACTIV 11/06/08). Canadian, Japanese, Chinese and Indian works follow.

The ‘TV without Frontiers’ directive also calls upon member states to guarantee at least a 10% share of transmission time to works carried out independently from the broadcasters. Both in 2005 and in 2006 this target was fulfilled in all the EU countries, except Cyprus, where in 2006 the average was around 6%. On the other hand, independent works represented 65% of the programmes aired in Germany in 2006, 55% in Luxembourg, 54% in Hungary and 53% in Sweden and Belgium.

The figures reveal that the EU’s newer member states have applied the directive just as well as the old members despite the shorter transitional period.

Recently, the European Union also extended the rules promoting European TV works to video-on-demand services. A new directive, which entered into force in December 2007 amending the ‘Television without Frontiers’ directive and renaming it ‘Audiovisual Media Services’ directive, calls upon member states to guarantee that video-on-demand providers pay particular attention to EU TV products, although it sets no specific target.

The provisions in the original ‘Television without Frontiers’ directive and in the new ‘Audiovisual Media Services’ one exclude time devoted to news, sports events, games, advertising, teletext and teleshopping services. For an overview of the original directive before the latest amendments see our Links Dossier.

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