On Tuesday, the Council of the EU adopted a new directive that also extends the regulations for television and radio to video-on-demand platforms. Furthermore, at least 30% of all content offered in the future should be European productions.
Video platforms like Netflix and Co. will hardly be happy this week. Tuesday the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) was adopted by the Council of the EU in Brussels. Because in the future they should apply more or less the same rules of television or radio. The directive is an attempt by the EU to respond to changing consumer viewing habits and to adapt the 2010 media law that still exists to the digital present. "It was no longer understandable that social media had lower standards of protection than radio programs, our youth must be protected everywhere, and that is why we have changed," said the Commissioner for Culture and the federal government media, Monika Grütters, following the Council decision.
Like traditional media, video content providers should in the future erase inflammatory, violent or pornographic content under certain circumstances. Although video sharing platforms are not responsible for content uploaded by users, according to the EU e-commerce directive. However, in the future they will have to configure features that allow users to report inappropriate content.
The solution is a middle way, on the one hand, to move the video platforms to control their content without, on the contrary, "over regulating them" in matters of responsibility, says the rapporteur, Sabine Verheyen (PPE). The criticisms come mainly from the left wing of the European Parliament. Ms. Manuela Michels states that online providers are only "reluctantly" charged and relieved of editorial responsibility for paragraphs with references to the e-commerce directive.
Only a fifth of the films and series offered are European
Parliament and the Council are taking a step forward. They want to strengthen the European film industry. Therefore, in the future, at least 30% of all content on video on demand providers should be European productions and be "appropriately highlighted". Such national quotas already exist in some Member States, with France, for example, establishing a 60% barrier. According to the market research firm "Ampere Analytics", the proportion of European productions on the Netflix platform is currently only 20 percent, compared to 25 percent of Amazonia. The quota now fixed is even ten percent higher than initially proposed by the Commission. The requests went far, from zero to half the content, according to the second rapporteur Petra Kammerevert (S & D).
From the media provider lobby, this obviously refuses. These guidelines are counterproductive, according to Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl from the DigitalEurope association. "This is not an effective way to protect local media producers, it will not only limit the free choice of consumers, it will also damage the future sustainability of current and future business models."
Even more problematic from the point of view of DigitalEurope is that media service providers may soon be forced by Member States to participate in the promotion of European cinema. With a few exceptions, this should be done through direct investments in EU media production or through payments to national funds. Such mandatory contributions contradict the purpose of the digital single market, Bonefeld-Dahl argues, violates the "country of origin principle", according to which EU states can regulate only the media, which are also with them. For a provider like Netflix, based in Amsterdam, payments could soon be made in all countries where Netflix is available. "If they invest only in Dutch productions, this would not be a contribution to the European film industry," says a Commission representative.
In addition to content regulations, the future law also includes restrictions on advertising times and data protection improvements. Personal data of minors may soon no longer be used for commercial purposes. In addition, the advertising content in the program between 6 and 18 can not exceed more than a fifth.
According to Parliament's rapporteurs, the drafting of the directive was particularly difficult due to strong pressures from media production, video providers and consumers. From the beginning, they received so many requests that they had to organize group auditions. Correspondingly, the trilogue negotiations were "sometimes very difficult," Kammervert said. In a statement, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands had declared before the vote that they would vote against the directive. Although legitimate, the regulation of the content of video sharing platforms is erroneously enshrined in the law for audiovisual media services and could lead to unwanted side-effects.
After the Council has approved the directive this week, member states have 21 months to convert the regulations into national law. For the German Secretary of State Grütters, the work has not yet been done: "Further steps must be parallel to the rapidly developing media landscape".