Europe Wants More Production Support from US Streaming Services

Over the past few decades, the European film and television industry has steadily declined domestically and internationally. However, the rise of video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix and Prime Video has further worsened the situation, leading to a greater market dominance of American films and shows.

Given its market dominance and substantial legroom for growth, individual European countries have started introducing a labyrinth of regulatory mandates targeting US streamers.

Europe Takes Aim with Disjointed and Disproportionate Regulations

Europe’s film and television public funds are confronting a crisis as streaming platforms and other disruptive forces shake up traditional business models.

Over 20 production entities spanning Europe and beyond have united forces, embarking on a mission to rally local governments to champion the cause of regional film and television creators and urge major US streaming platforms to amplify their support for locally produced content.

To operate across Europe, streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+ must guarantee that at least 30% of the films in their online catalogs are “European works.” This quota encompasses not only the 27 EU member states but also countries like Britain, Turkey, and Switzerland. However, following Britain’s exit from the EU, France is spearheading efforts to remove UK productions from the list available for streamers to fulfill this requirement.

British films and shows were nearly as prominently featured throughout Europe in streaming platform catalogs as those from all EU27 countries combined. On average, British productions occupied 9% of the space on major streaming platforms, nearly one-third of the quota for European works. Moreover, this issue is exacerbated because most British productions are co-productions with American companies.

A report released by the European Commission last year highlighted the significant presence of British films and British-American co-productions in streaming platform catalogs. Speculation abounds that Brussels is contemplating removing the UK under the European works requirement, with many arguing that including British-American co-produced films inadvertently hinders the ability of European films to access international audiences.

European Funding and Tax Structures Draw Scrutiny

Delving into the intricacies of the European funding systems unveils a frustratingly convoluted network of relationships among various artistic and cultural stakeholders, constantly grappling with an overwhelming array of rules and regulations.

Europe’s film sector grapples with a dilemma rooted in its historical reliance on convoluted combinations of art and cultural funding mechanisms. These interventions have primarily aimed to uphold national cinemas and distributors in the face of Hollywood’s export prowess. However, the mounting challenge lies in reconciling these traditional systems with the emergence of global streaming platforms, necessitating their adaptation to prevent becoming obsolete.

Digitization and globalization of the sector have fundamentally altered the ecosystem and the business and operational concepts underpinning the entire value chain of film and television.

However, not all problems can be blamed on external forces. Generous public funds diverted to a small group of insiders connected to France’s film industry and inflated producer fees have resulted in a confounding system that produces 250 a year—less than half of which are completely non-performing financially.

In many cases, producers can exploit statutory windows to secure deals unrelated to the success or failure of their content.

France is not the only country that has come under fire. Germany’s film-funding system, which amounts to $655 million per year, has recently drawn government attention, criticized for an intricate network of federal and regional programs that are excessively slow, unpredictable, and insufficient.

Source: filmtaker


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