Netflix pulled into EU dispute over British TV’s rights
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Netflix pulled into EU dispute over British TV's rights

A prominent MEP from Germany has called on Brussels to remain open to British dramas and films, opposing France’s efforts to exclude the separatist state from EU television schedules in the aftermath of Brexit. Netflix is at the heart of the discussion.

French leaders have pushed for a redefinition of what qualifies as European-made television, intending to remove Britain from this classification during the forthcoming revision of the continent’s audiovisual regulations for 2024. 

EU regulations currently require streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime to have at least 30 per cent of “European works” in their catalogues. The French propose to revoke this status from British television, potentially compelling the platforms to remove British content from their archives to comply. 

“Especially now that many British people are starting to recognise that Brexit wasn’t the best idea, we should be leaving doors open, not shutting them,” Sabine Verheyen, chairman of the European Parliament’s culture committee, said in a new statement to the press.

“While we are seeking a close cooperation with the UK in areas like education or musicians’ abilities to work across borders, it makes absolutely no sense to have a different stance on film,” she added. 

The current audiovisual legislation is written under a 1989 treaty devised by the Council of Europe, which has 46 member states and predates the EU’s establishment. The EU subsequently used the council’s “convention on transfrontier television” to flesh out its own nuanced directive. 

Shortly after the Brexit vote, France asked the European Commission to assess the credibility of labelling British audiovisual material as European. One of the crucial derivations of the resultant report was that a disproportionate share of European programming was taken up by British and American material. 

The report noted that the British series Peaky Blinders, Sex Education, Downton Abbey and The Crown were particularly popular among European viewers. 

The French stance is allegedly backed by Greece, Austria, Italy and Spain, but other countries, especially those under the Council of Europe umbrella, such as Turkey, are more sceptical.