back to article EU pegs quota for 'homegrown' content on Netflix at 30 per cent

The European Parliament has set content quotas for OTT video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime even higher than the Commission originally wanted. 30 per cent of the services' catalog must be European works, Parliament has decreed. The Commission asked for a 20 per cent quota. Some member states already operate a quota, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Law of Unintended Consequences

    Instead of promoting new European content, this may lead to providers removing some of the less popular foreign content. For example if you are an ex-pat from Iraq and some streaming service shows some of your favourite programs from Iraq, they might cull these programs because hardly anyone watches them and they affect your quotas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Law of Unintended Consequences

      Good news. I expect to be able to sell my huge catalog of European made films to Netflix for about 100 euros a time. Dulux Brilliant White Gloss drying is the pilot edition. The rest are all very different shades, not all of which are grey. Season 2 is more subtle thanks to Farrow and Ball.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Law of Unintended Consequences

        Surely the next stage is to ensure that 30% of the content *consumed* is from the European catalogue.

        I can just see the popup message:

        "Sorry, you cannot watch Game of Thrones now, because you are below your quota of European viewing. Would you like to watch Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying instead?"

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Law of Unintended Consequences

          "Would you like to watch Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying instead?"

          Actually, I would. Not that I don't like GoT, but anyone who's ever worked in that sector knows that it's one of the last great adventures you can experience in our affluent western civilisation.

        2. fishman

          Re: Law of Unintended Consequences

          Using GoT as an example is a bad choice - much of it was filmed in the EU.

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: Law of Unintended Consequences

      One name: Uwe Boll

      Does the EU really want more work like his?

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Law of Unintended Consequences

        God no.

        Although to be fair I would happily swap "Point of no return" for "Nikita"

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Meh

    2 minds ..

    on the one hand this is exactly the sort of free-market interference we expect from the French (lets not kid ourselves about this), which generally is doomed to fail.

    One the other hand, it's thanks to such measures in the film world back in the 80s which led to some classic films (in French).

    Of course the difference here is that initiative applied to the European side of things. Even France never tried to tell Hollywood how many films they should make.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "30% of the services' catalog must be European works"

    Not sure what the right answer is. But I know that here in Latam TV is saturated with endless low-hanging fruit from the USA that gets dubbed into Spanish and is awful to horrific. So I'd guess outside of local telenovelas you're looking at 90% US content! If the EU can keep a decent amount of TV focused on European content, good or not, that is at least something....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "30% of the services' catalog must be European works"

      Perhaps if Hollywood would get their d****s out of each other backsides and stopped making stupid sequels/prequels and more original films then they might become relevant again.

      Meanwhile, TV has seen where is it at and is making lots of good stuff and not all of it set in [shudder] America.

      Oh, and while I am ranting, stop trying to make California (i.e Southern Cal) pass as say DC and Virginia.

      Yes you, the people who make things like NCIS.

      I find Danish and Swedish TV far more original than most stuff that comes out the the USA so this move to limit Netflix is good but it won't make me cough up £9.99/month or whatver it costs, not for Sky £40+/month.

      That's the cheapskate in me.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "find Danish and Swedish TV far more original"

        Given US media had to copy "The bridge" as well.... especially US people look unable to watch anything that was made outside the country, they have to remake it... what's the real problem, other cultures look different? Great time to understand them better....

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: "30% of the services' catalog must be European works"

      I have said it before, I will say it again.

      In most Eu countries, it is trivial to hit the 30% threshold by digitizing and running old classics out of the back catalogue and people WILL watch them. Even if they are in another Eu language.

      If I have a choice between Grey's anatomy and Hospital at The End of The City I will watch the latter (if I watch anything at all). Anything else aside it is FUNNY (and extremely politically incorrect by today's standards). There is a whole raft of pretty decent old German criminal shows (along the lines of UK's Midsommer Murders). Polish have a long history of doing somewhat tolerable interpretations of classics like for example their serialization of Master and Margarita. You can add some occasional spice like the old Spanish serialization of Don Quixote.

      Satisfying this requirement without putting tripe on is trivial. It is also CHEAP - the rights to some of this content cost peanuts.

      So frankly, I do not see what are Netflix and co complaning about. Just f*** off and do a round trip around the TV archives on the continent, they will be > 30% by the end of it.

      IMHO the issue they have is that this content will be HIGHER quality and will be watched more than the force-fed idiotic Hollywood drivel which is being pushed as as steamroller through marketing and product placement agreements. That is exactly what Eu is trying to fix so good luck to them if they manage to do so.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: "30% of the services' catalog must be European works"

        And while they're at it, maybe Netflix can also offer a proper range of language and subtitle choices. US shows with no English subtitles on French Netflix? German language and subtitles, but no French or Italian on Swiss Netflix? That's rubbish! It can't be rights issue if they already show the content in other countries, and I can't imagine it's a technical or storage issue, as some programs have audio or subtitles in a dozen different languages

  4. Gordon Pryra

    What happens when the UK leaves?

    Because, no offense, the quality of TV in Europe is pretty shit even WITH BBC's offerings in there.

    I am not saying the American stuff is good, nor that the English make good TV just that the rest is dire.

    Have fun with your increased regional offerings that you don't want to watch (which is probably why your viewing a streaming service in the first place....)

    1. aphexbr

      Re: What happens when the UK leaves?

      "I am not saying the American stuff is good, nor that the English make good TV just that the rest is dire."

      It's a shame that you haven't been exposed to all the excellent European TV out there, like The Bridge, The Killing, The Returned, Marseille, Divines, Gomorrah, Romanzo Criminale, Ministry Of Time and Sin Identidad. You're not only apparently missing out, but happy about it and welcoming further ignorance.

      I suppose you only watch such things when they're pointlessly remade in English?

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: What happens when the UK leaves?

        suppose you only watch such things when they're pointlessly remade in English?

        Concur. End of the day some people need La Piovra sterilized, sanitized, americanized and made into the Sopranoes to watch it. Only because La Piovra was Italian you know.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What happens when the UK leaves?

        @aphexbr - If they had been made or dubbed well into English I would have seen most of them. My wife watches them and so I have technically sat in front of the telly with them on. The problem is that I hate subtitles, I'm not wonderfully fond of much TV either so I tend to read or use my laptop just glancing at the TV and listening to it till the program becomes compelling enough for me to put the book etc down and concentrate 100% on it. Thanks to not having read the subtitles it never gets compelling.

        Programs in French are slightly different as my French is not good enough to get all of the important dialog but good enough to get the gist of what is being said. But when I devote 100% to it I often find that what they are saying is not quite what the subtitles say, which is annoying so I pick the book up again.

        Dubbing into different languages works fine for me even with the lip sync issues you see in classic films like The Good The Bad and The Ugly where no one really knows what language some of the actors were speaking.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what about specialist streaming services like those dedicated to Japanese anime? Will they be illegal now? Makes you almost glad we're leaving.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Lots of peaceful footage ...

    of parts of: the river Thames, the Avon, the Seine, the Rhine, ... showing the fish leaping (or not) and pretty flowers on the banks. Quick and cheap to make in bulk.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Lots of peaceful footage ...

      It could herald a return of the Quota Quickie,

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Lots of peaceful footage ...

      There are always loop holes. There are already quotas for broadcast and cable and they are often filled by bringing over shows then re-editing and re-narrating using local talent across a range of channels owned by a particular company. Discovery, for example, often has US or Canadian made documentary type shows with different titles and a UK english narrator instead of the original Canadian on How It Is Made and similar shows.

      They also have local production facilities in other world markets, partly because of these quotas but also so as to broaden their palette of shows, allowing for a wider range of experts. English language US documentary shows shown in the UK seem to have more UK presenters/experts nowadays, even for the US broadcast version of the show, which is not a bad thing.

      Of course, Netflix main catalogue is drama so that's a bit more difficult for them to reach local quotas. I suspect they'll simply bulk out their catalogue with cheap shows bought in from the likes of Discovery, NatGeo and History which have been "localised" as above.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lots of peaceful footage ...

      Peaceful footage of rivers, eh? Probably see lots of nice boats there then after legal anime streaming services have been banned.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought it was up to the audience, if it's rubbish they won't watch it.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      @AC

      It still is. Just because 30% of the titles available on Netflix are European, doesn't mean that people watch that 30%.

      1. JLV Silver badge
        Trollface

        I am sorry Dave, I can't let you watch Westworld. You are behind your quota.

        Might I suggest movies by Eric Rohmer? You haven't watched any and he's worth an extra 25% quota bonus. Or Alain Resnais' Marienbad.

        Nope, I don't recommend La Femme Nikita or Grand Bleu. Besson's @ -20%.

  8. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Trollface

    Law of Unintended Consequences!

    Just to be fair EU, this rule may cause a reduction in American fare on Netflix in Europe, to reduce the share of non-European content and bump up the European share.

    If the EU can live with itself knowing that it may be depriving European audiences from even seeing Gilligan's Island and 3-4 of the ten or so iterations of Law & Order ("Coming up next, a very special episode of Law & Order: Parking Enforcement!") or important films like the Big Mama's House trilogy and the new Baywatch movie... Well, all I can say is that I wouldn't want that responsibility!

  9. localzuk

    Typical protectionism

    It doesn't work. If countries want local content, fund a state broadcaster like the BBC. Commercial entities should be able to offer the content that people want to watch, not what the government want them to watch.

    On the whole, European content is generally of poor quality anyway, BBC and Sky excepted.

    I suppose companies could achieve this by just adding a bunch of nonsense to a "local content" category, and leave the volume of the rest as it is though.

  10. Marcelo Rodrigues
    FAIL

    This will all end in tears...

    We had something like this in Brazil, in the eighties if I'm not mistaken.

    Every movie on the cinema (cinema? theatre? movies? This is really confusing for me.) should come after a short Brazilian one. The idea was the same: promote content.

    The real result was shitty short movies, made to get the grant and fill the space.

    I remember one, particularly bad, that followed a homeless. For 15 minutes. Did nothing, showed nothing. Said nothing.

    Then, in the nineties, this law got thrown out. Five years later the Brazilian content was way better.

  11. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Brazil ? Or 1960s Britain ?

    Wasn't the Childrens Film Foundation part of a similar idea in Blighty: to try and generate UK content ?

    Wasn't that also the reason that - up until the 1970s - almost all films had a British "travelogue" trailer (that looked like it had been shot out of the cab between the airport and the hotel) ?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Brazil ? Or 1960s Britain ?

      "almost all films had a British "travelogue" trailer (that looked like it had been shot out of the cab between the airport and the hotel) ?"

      Speaking of the law of unintended consequences, a lot of those old "fluff" pieces are now seen as useful historical documenting of everyday life. Not exactly mass market, but having some real value 30, 40, 50 years later showing stuff that otherwise would never have been recorded.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Brazil ? Or 1960s Britain ?

        Well, Telly Savalas bigging up Birmingham is certainly a little gem.

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Brazil ? Or 1960s Britain ?

          I can just imagine Telly Savalas doing that; "Birmingham! It's the swingingest town in Limey-country!"

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Brazil ? Or 1960s Britain ?

            "I can just imagine Telly Savalas doing that; "Birmingham! It's the swingingest town in Limey-country!""

            An actual quotation from it: "This was the view that nearly took my breath away".

            1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

              Re: Brazil ? Or 1960s Britain ?

              That was the coal-fired pollution, Telly! :)

    2. Jay 2

      Re: Brazil ? Or 1960s Britain ?

      On similar lines, some classic Peter Sellers; Balham - Gateway to the South

  12. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    so if we're controlling private companies and public entertainment

    how long until the EU decides the content of the "home grown content"?

    State funded slickly produced EU Patriotism and "Do Your Part" videos?

    For the Good of the Union and a remake of "Triumph of the Will"?

    I think we've ALL seen this "movie" before.

  13. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Thank god we're leaving.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The better idea is to ensure there is proportional budget for local, original content based on subscription fees. Whatever proportion is spent in the US should set a desired benchmark for every market they operate.

    The real issue is that Americans refuse to watch TV that isn't in English or Spanish.

  15. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Devil

    RageQuit?

    I wonder if Amazon and Netflix will just say.. "sod this, hit the kill switch" and just disable European access entirely.

    1. Paul 195

      Re: RageQuit?

      No. Because, money.

  16. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Another unintended consequence

    In spite of the language barrier, many European countries' TV is full of wall-to-wall American TV films and NCIS shite to fill up airtime. Netflix would be held to a higher quality standard than local TV, meaning it might help them gain more subscribers and making things more difficult for European streaming services to gain a foothold.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another unintended consequence

      Also competition for sky and everyone else for Eurocontent.

      To be frank though all netflix etc have to do is do reruns of BBC content like GOLD, cheaply and easily meet their quota as well as increasing the overall quality of content at the same time.

      However until SKY's content monopolies in Europe are banned then this is all just blowwing smoke, withouy sky then netflix for example would have much more content availible to Europe.

      Yet again this measure is not about improving things for the citizen just forcing Eurocontent onto streaming regardless of quality.

      I am not saying Euro content is bad merely that the UK's for instance would have already been broadcast on Film4 or BBC and I imagine it will be the same with other local content, namely that the intented audience has already seen it

  17. akeane
    Linux

    Pingu!!!

    The penguin boy is european, just make Netflix's content 30% Pingu...

    Hail Pingu, fools!

    1. CentralCoasty
      Pint

      Re: Pingu!!!

      Wall to wall Pingu, interspersed with Montalbano....

      ..... or even just any Italian talk-show... who needs drugs when you watch those things!

  18. arthoss

    could be good

    at the moment Netflix sucks when it comes to seeing good European movies. Amazon Prime is doing there a much better job. I think this requirement together with the end of geofencing for streaming could finally mean we get access to much more movies done in Europe (being in Germany I'd love to watch more Spanish, French and Italian movies).

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: could be good

      There's plenty of very good English stuff on Netflix - mostly from the BBC.

      There isn't money in making Greek content because no bugger speaks the language. If you're making a programme that you want Italians, Hungarians and Germans to watch it most likely will be in English, so set in the anglosphere.

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