EU prepares to remove UK content from broadcast quotas

The European Union is considering proposals to remove UK originated content from the bloc’s programming quotas.

The latest version of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive requires on demand services to have at least a 30% share of European content in their catalogue and to ensure the prominence of the content. This includes streaming services, such as Netflix, which have been steadily building the amount of locally-produced content.

Some countries including France have raised the threshold to ensure 60% European works.

However, in a story first reported in The Guardian, EU officials are now concerned with the “disproportionate” amount of British content appearing on European television.

“The high availability of UK content in video on demand services, as well as the privileges granted by the qualification as European works, can result in a disproportionate presence of UK content within the European video on demand quota and hinder a larger variety of European works (including from smaller countries or less spoken languages),” says a paper put before European diplomats earlier this month.

“Therefore the disproportionality may affect the fulfilment of the objectives of promotion of European works and cultural diversity aimed by the audiovisual media services directive.”

While the UK is no longer a member of the EU, its works continue to be counted because it is a signatory to the European convention on Transfrontier Television.

UK content has long been popular with European audiences, particularly in Scandinavia and the Benelux, but the arrival of on demand services has increased this further. It’s estimated the market earned the UK television industry £490 million in 2019-20, making it the UK’s second biggest market behind the United States.

Already, Brexit has lost the UK distribution contracts with international channels that have opted for the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain as their base.