Netflix, Amazon Would Be Forced to Maintain 30% European Content Quotas Under Proposed EU Law

Streaming-video providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video would be required to dedicate at least 30% of their on-demand catalogs to European content, under a proposed European Union law announced Thursday.

Under the revised rules, internet-streaming services also will be required to fund TV series and films produced in Europe, either through direct commissions or by paying into national film funds.

The mandates, aimed at providing an economic stimulus for Euro entertainment productions, is part of a broader revision of rules applying to audiovisual media across the region, under a preliminary agreement reached by the European Parliament, Council and Commission. The negotiations will officially conclude in June, when lawmakers and regulators finalize remaining technical details of the proposal. After that, it will need to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states.

In addition to the 30% European content quota and funding mandate, which are also aimed at leveling the playing field for the already-regulated broadcast media sector, the EU agreement also will require internet video operators to put measures in place “to protect minors.”

The revised EU rules would also extend to user-generated videos on platforms like Facebook and YouTube, in the event that “providing audiovisual content is an essential functionality of the service.” The proposed law would include stronger rules forcing video-sharing platforms to block “hate speech and public provocation to commit terrorist offences” and provide “transparent” mechanisms for users to report such content.

“These new rules reflect digital progress and recognize that people now watch videos in different ways than before,” Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s VP for the Digital Single Market, said in a statement. They encourage innovative services and promote European films — but also protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way.”

Reps for Netflix and Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment on the EU proposal.

Europe’s move to bring internet-video under its content-quota rules has been brewing for several years. Previously the EU had floated a requirement that 20% of subscription VOD services comprise European-produced content.

In its international markets, Netflix generally has been targeting around 20% of its originals to be local, in-language productions. Earlier this month, Netflix said it has more than 100 different European projects launching in 2018. The company announced 10 new European projects including feature film “Rimetti a Noi i Nostri Debiti” (Italy) and original series “Mortel” (France), “The Wave” (Germany), “Luna Nera” (Italy), “La Casa de Papel” part 3 (Spain), “The English Game” (U.K.), and “Turn Up Charlie” (U.K.).

“[W]e are committed to being a voice for European entertainment, giving passionate local content creators a worldwide platform to share their vision, and offering consumers around the world unique and diverse stories they can discover and enjoy, anywhere, anytime and at the same time, no matter their place or language of origin,” chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

Sarandos, in discussing Netflix’s first-quarter 2018 results, cited the global appeal of supernatural series “Dark” from Germany and period drama “Las Chicas del Cable” from Spain.

Another piece of the EU’s proposal is designed to provide more flexibility in TV advertising. The revised rules give broadcasters more flexibility as to when ads can be shown. Under current regulations, broadcasters are limited to a maximum of 12 minutes of ads per hour; the revised rules would let TV networks choose more freely when to show ads throughout the day with an overall cap of 20% of air time between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Pictured above: Benoit Magimel (l.) and Gérard Depardieu in Netflix’s original French series “Marseille” season 2, produced by Paris-based Federation Entertainment

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