European Netflix programming quota does not go far enough for France

France has the highest European content quota in the EU. [Evan Lorne/Shutterstock]

Brussels’ proposed quotas for the broadcasting of European audiovisual works by on-demand video platforms has drawn criticism from France – which already has a far stricter system in place. EURACTIV France reports.

The Commission’s proposal to oblige Netflix and other streaming services to contribute financially to the European audiovisual industry is an important victory for France.

European Commission wants Netflix to carry at least 20% European content

The European Commission will propose quotas on online video streaming services that require them to offer at least 20% European content.

But Paris, which already has an advanced support system for its creative industries, hopes to make similar gains on other fronts, notably on quotas for the broadcasting of European works.

“Certain countries do not have any programming quotas or financial obligations. The fact that the Commission wants to impose a minimum quota is a first step. But the level of these quotas is still far below those already in place in France,” a representative from the French Ministry of Culture said.

Unveiled on Wednesday (25 May), the Commission’s proposal will oblige video platforms to reserve at least 20% of their catalogue for European productions.

While controversial with American streaming services like Netflix, this threshold is a far cry from France’s 60% quota for European productions. French rules also stipulate that 40% of broadcast programming must be original French language material.

A number of EU member states apply quotas, which range from 10% to 60%. Quotas in France are the highest in the EU.

On-demand players in the sights

Such broadcasting quotas have up to now been reserved for traditional actors like television channels, which have for several years been denouncing unfair competition from video on-demand services.

Another element of the proposal that will please Paris is the possibility claim a financial contribution from video on-demand platforms to support the creation of European cultural works, even if the services are based outside the EU.

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“We still have companies who play absolutely no part in the financing of creation, despite using the French market,” the French Ministry of Culture said.

American video streaming giant Netflix has its European headquarters in the Netherlands. This allows it to offer its services in other European countries, including France, whilst escaping the financing obligations imposed by Paris.

The European Commission presented its plan for a Digital Single Market in Digital Single Market 2015, announcing concrete proposals on 16 initiatives in 2015 and 2016. The Commission also announced that it would launch an inquiry into online platforms, widely perceived to be a move to target large US-based tech companies.

In April 2016, Andrus Ansip, the Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said the executive would adopt a consistant approach to "tackle the problems" and would not regulate disproportionately.

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