Home-grown programmes dominate Europe’s TV screens

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Two thirds of the TV programmes viewed in Europe are of European origin, according to a report published by the European Commission on Friday (24 September), in line with EU rules on promoting home-grown content. 

European television broadcasters devote an average of 63% of their air time to programmes made in the EU and 35% to independent works created by European producers, found the report, which covers the period 2007-2008.

The EU's Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive, which entered into force in 2007, requires member states to make sure that over 50% of programming time is devoted to European works (see 'Background').

Moreover, broadcasters must reserve 10% of their transmission time – or 10% of their programming budget – for European works created by independent producers.

Average broadcasting time for European works in the EU was 62.6% in 2007 and 63.2% in 2008, the report found, although the transmission time varied widely between member states.

In Poland, for example, European works took up a massive 85% of broadcast time in 2007 and 83.11% in 2008, but in Cyprus, the figures were just 27.9% and 30% respectively.

A similar study published by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO) in March 2009 had found that American fiction still "overwhelmingly dominates" European television screens, but European productions were increasing their market share (EURACTIV 26/03/09).

While American programming was "on the decline" in Europe, European television productions and European films were increasing their presence in TV schedules across the continent, that study found. The EAO figures referred to 2007.

Last week's report showed that the average share of independent producers' works broadcast across EU member states was 35.3% in 2007 and 34.1% on 2008.

Again, the figures varied widely from one country to the next, ranging from 61.7% for Germany in 2007 to a paltry 10.9% in Slovenia, and 62.3% in Germany in 2008 compared to 15.1% for Greece.

Denmark fared most impressively of all, recording shares of just over 84% in both years, while the UK just scraped over the 50% mark each time.

The Commission saw the figures as evidence that "the 10% threshold set by the AVMS Directive was therefore reached in all member states".

Nevertheless, the EU executive urged Cyprus, Slovenia and Sweden, whose shares of European works in overall transmission time both years were particularly low at 27.9%/30%, 34.1%/44.6% and 45.1%/45.5%, to "encourage their broadcasters to show more European works and to pay special attention to small specialised channels, which have difficulties in reaching the required proportions". 

The three countries were the only member states not to surpass the 50% threshold.

As for recent European works by independent producers, which the Commission qualifies as works broadcast within five years of their production, transmission time was higher, recording shares of 63% in 2007 and 62.4% in 2008.

Member states are due to report on the promotion of European works in on-demand services (like video-on-demand and catch-up TV) by the end of 2011, in time for the data to be included in the Commission’s next report, set for publication in 2012. 

The EU's 'Television without Frontiers' Directive, adopted in 1989, was updated and renamed the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive in December 2007.

Article 4 of the AVMS Directive stipulates that EU countries must ensure, "where practicable and by appropriate means," that broadcasters registered on their territory reserve the majority of their transmission time for European works.

Article 5 of the AVMS Directive requires broadcasters to reserve 10% of their transmission time – or 10% of their programming budget – for European works created by independent producers.

In both cases, transmission time devoted to news, sports events, advertising and teleshopping is excluded.

Last week's report represents the latest in a series published by the European Commission every two years to monitor the promotion of European works on TV across the EU. 

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