‘UK needs to push back hard!’ EU shamed for slashing the amount of UK TV shown in Europe

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The UK is Europe’s biggest producer of film and TV content but, following Britain’s departure from the bloc, its dominance has been described as a threat to Europe’s “cultural diversity”, according to an internal EU document seen by the Guardian.

Under the EU’s audiovisual media services directive, the majority of airtime must be given to European content on terrestrial TV.

It must also make up 30 percent of the number of titles on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.

Other countries have increased their quotas for European works on video-on-demand platforms.

But the document, tabled with diplomats on June 8, said in the “aftermath of Brexit” the inclusion of UK content in such quotas had led to a “disproportionate” amount of British content on EU TV.

Now, MP John Redwood has lashed out at the bloc claiming their attack on British TV shows their “continuing contempt” for the Free Trade Agreement.

Mr Redwood tweeted: “The EU attack on UK TV programmes shows continuing contempt for the Free Trade Agreement and their own Treaty rules about relations with neighbours.

“The UK needs to push back hard, especially on the EU attempts to stifle GB/NI trade.”

The threat was also attacked by ex-Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who said: “This sums up the small-minded, protectionist club the European Union is.

“They now even want to censor content their citizens can view.

“Thank God we left.”

The document said the amount of UK content may “affect the fulfilment” of promoting European works and cultural diversity.

It read: “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).

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“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.

“The concerns relate to how Brexit will impact the audiovisual production sector in the European Union as, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory, the UK provides half of the European TV content presence of VOD in Europe and the UK works are the most actively promoted on VOD, while the lowest EU27 share of promotion spots is also found in the UK.

“Although the UK is now a third country for the European Union, its audiovisual content still qualifies as ‘European works’ according to the definition provided by the AVMS directive, as the definition continues to refer to the European Convention on Transfrontier Television of the Council of Europe, to which the UK remains a party.”

The European Commission will launch an impact study on the risk to the EU’s “cultural diversity” from British programming.

However, industry figures said the move to define UK content as something other than European would hit the British industry hard.

Adam Minns, the executive director of the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), said: “Selling the international intellectual property rights to British programmes has become a crucial part of financing production in certain genres, such as drama.

“Losing access to a substantial part of EU markets would be a serious blow for the UK TV sector, right across the value chain from producers to broadcasters to creatives.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “The UK is proud to host a world-class film and TV industry that entertains viewers globally and which the government has supported throughout the pandemic, including through the film and TV restart scheme.

“European works status continues to apply to audiovisual works originating in the UK, as the UK is a party to the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT).”

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