Picture: REUTERS/File Photo
Picture: REUTERS/File Photo

Brussels — Netflix, Amazon and other video-on-demand services will have to ensure that at least 30% of their catalogues are made up of Europe-made content, under new EU rules agreed Tuesday.

EU lawmakers voted to adopt the policy to modernise audiovisual media legislation in an age in which people are watching more TV shows, movies and media clips online, on demand, and from their mobile devices.

The legislation, which could also require online platforms to help finance Europe-made films and TV, still needs to be rubber-stamped by EU member states. Following this, countries will have about two years to incorporate the legislation into national laws.

Some of the largest platforms already offer a large supply of European content but will have to boost it to meet the new rules. Any new shows and films will have to be matched with European ones to maintain the 30% quota level. Local content will also be required to be given good visibility and placement on the platforms, in accordance with the rules.

A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment, and representatives for Netflix didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Local content is important for on-demand providers as the companies seek to expand internationally. Netflix, for instance, airs shows such as “Marseille”, a French political drama starring Gérard Depardieu, and an Italian crime series called “Suburra”. Local-language programming resonates with European audiences and is often more popular with advertisers than imported shows, according to analysts.

This year, Netflix is doubling its European programming budget, to $1bn; Amazon will soon have at least a dozen original series from Europe, up from just one in 2014. The investment by the streaming platforms has pushed broadcasters in Britain, France, Germany, and Italy to set aside rivalries to co-produce programmes or offer shows online.

Under the new EU rules, member states will also be allowed to require on-demand platforms to help finance the production of European content, for instance, through levies paid into national funds, with the level of contributions based on the revenue the company collects in that country.

Some member states, such as France, already implement a so-called culture tax, which is paid by movie theatres, broadcasters, and internet service providers in the country. On-demand providers who have subscribers in France but aren’t headquartered there already have to pay a 2% streaming tax on revenue it makes in the country.