Lead MEPs question Commission’s Netflix quota

The two rapporteurs on the 'Netflix bill' are sceptical of the Commission's proposed 20% quota for European works. [Esther Vargas/Flickr]

The two German MEPs in charge of a controversial new bill that would require Netflix to carry 20% European content in its catalogue are sceptical about the European Commission’s plans for the quota.

MEPs Petra Kammerevert (S&D) and Sabine Verheyen (EPP) were named co-rapporteurs on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive two weeks ago. The two MEPs are both from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and are on the broadcasting board of public broadcaster WDR.

The Commission proposed changes to the six-year-old directive last month that extend rules that already apply to television broadcasters to video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.

Kammerevert and Verheyen have both expressed doubts about the Commission’s proposed quota of European content.

“I’m not so enthusiastic about the proposed quota on European film works on video platform services,” Kammerevert wrote in the July edition of German trade magazine ProMedia.

Kammerevert called the quota a “security net” that would have a “limited” effect on creating more European films and TV shows.

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.

Verheyen, the other MEP shepherding the bill through the European Parliament, said the quota “might be a support for European content”. But she disagreed with the Commission’s proposal of a strict 20% quota.

“It should be a flexible quota where member states can decide,” she told euractiv.com, calling herself an “absolute supporter” for measures to boost EU cultural works.

“For some member states it’s quite important to have these quotas,” Verheyen said, naming France as an example.

But France will likely push back against flexible quotas that are left up to member states.

French law requires broadcasters to include at least 60% European and 40% French language works in their total airtime, the highest broadcasting quota in Europe.

One official from the French ministry of culture told euractiv.fr the Commission’s proposal of a 20% quota was a “first step” but said it should still be higher.

European Netflix programming quota does not go far enough for France

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 executive attracted criticism from internet companies for the 20% quota. Before the bill can become law both the Parliament and EU governments must agree an identical text.

A Netflix spokesman said of the Commission proposal in May, “We appreciate the Commission’s objective to have European production flourish, however the proposed measures won’t actually achieve that.”

Kammerevert said she is more enthusiastic about the Commission’s proposal to allow EU countries to force broadcasters and on demand platforms to pay into national cultural funds.

“It’s only right that whoever has an advantage marketing a film in the EU and always relies on attractive new content should also contribute financially to European film production,” Kammerevert wrote in ProMedia.

The controversial directive is already attracting a lot of attention from lobbyists ahead of a Culture Committee vote expected in October.

Verheyen and Kammerevert have scheduled group meetings with up to 40 lobbyists at a time this week and next week after they were swamped with meeting requests.

Lobbyists swamp MEPs over 'Netflix bill'

MEPs handling the controversial bill that could impose a 20% quota of European works on Netflix will meet up to 40 lobbyists at once over three meetings, after being swamped with requests.

Jean-Claude Juncker announced in December 2014 that the establishment of a Digital Single Market would be one of the priorities in his first term as Commission president.

The Commission presented its strategy on 6 May 2015 and vowed to introduce measures on 16 policy points by the end of 2016. The strategy focused on building trust and confidence, removing restrictions, ensuring access and connectivity, building the digital economy, promoting e-society and investing in ICT research.

On the policy side, the strategy is coordinated by Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip, and will be implemented by DG Connect, the Commission department in charge of communications networks, content and technology.

The Commission presented its first proposal under the digital single market strategy in December 2015.

  • October: Culture Committee meeting

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