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Europe cracks down on UK TV – POLITICO

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Expressed by artificial intelligence.

It’s a question worthy of a TV sleuth: can streamers like Netflix still guarantee a certain proportion of European content if the goalposts are suddenly moved to exclude hits like Sherlock and Doctor Who?

They may soon have to because the European Commission is considering removing the UK from the list of countries recognized as providing “European” content, according to a guidance document seen by POLITICO. This would put broadcasters and streaming platforms in a difficult situation, as the UK is one of the biggest contributors to their European catalogues.

“The need to redefine the concept of European works has been raised in the context of Brexit. Arguably, since the UK is no longer a member of the EU, works originating in the UK should no longer be considered European,” the newspaper said. He also mentioned the idea of ​​removing Switzerland from the scope of European works.

Under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, television and streaming must include a share of “European works” in their broadcast schedules or on-demand catalogues. These are defined as programs originating in and produced primarily by nationals of EU countries or those that have ratified the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT), which includes neighbors such as the United Kingdom, Turkey and Ukraine.

The Commission is currently considering how to strengthen these criteria.

In the approach set out in the document, dated December 2022, countries that have signed the ECTT should also maintain close ties with the EU and its internal market, distinguishing between members of the European Economic Area, candidate countries to the EU or potential candidates. and sovereignties that have signed agreements to use the euro such as the Holy See and San Marino.

Move over, Fleabag

That would be bad news for broadcasters and streamers. The UK swallowed up around 28% of European platform investments in 2021, compared to around 21% for German productions and 15% for French productions, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory.

“It’s the wrong discussion, at the wrong time,” Sabine Verheyen, chair of the European Parliament’s culture and education committee, told POLITICO in response to the Commission’s document. She warned against excluding such an important partner, even if he is no longer a member of the Union.

As early as June 2021, the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) warned against any attempt to exclude UK productions. “Despite Brexit, the audiovisual community continues to work hand in hand across the Channel,” he said. “We should focus on building bridges, not burning them.”

Reacting to the Commission document, a spokesperson for the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “The UK remains committed to European works. We continue to support its contribution to the cultural enrichment across Europe and to provide audiences with access to content they know and love.”

The Commission has yet to indicate how it might roll out the changes, nor has it made a definitive proposal to exclude UK content; such a move would undoubtedly trigger industry opposition. The EU must assess the audiovisual directive by the end of 2026.

A Commission spokesperson said in a statement that the EU executive is “undertaking a fact-finding exercise” to ensure that European works benefit from a “diverse, fair and balanced market”.

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