EU Could Cut British TV Shows, Claims They Threaten Europe’s ‘Cultural Diversity’: Report

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 27: (L-R) Krista Smith, Peter Morgan, Claire Foy, Vanessa Kirby and Jane Petrie speak onstage during the For Your Consideration event for Netflix's "The Crown" at Saban Media Center on April 27, 2018 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Rich Fury/Getty Images

The European Union will launch an impact review of the “disproportionate” amount of British television programmes on European airwaves, which it says could pose a risk to Europe’s “cultural diversity”, according to reports.

The European Commission, the bloc’s powerful executive branch, could also reconsider allowing British film and television programmes to continue to bear the destination of “European works” — as the UK is part of the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT) — in the “aftermath of Brexit”.

In a paper distributed to the EU’s remaining 27 member-states seen by The Guardian, the Commission said: “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).”

“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,” it added.

An EU directive announced in 2018 forced online content providers, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, to produce at least 30 per cent of their content in Europe, which streaming services must also subsidise themselves.

France, which is fiercely protective of its language and artistic culture, sets an even higher national quota of 60 per cent.

The EU’s media laws also demand that a majority of terrestrial television programmes must also be ‘European’ content.

The reports represent the latest in the EU’s petty treatment of Brexit Britain, which, despite allegations made by Remainers that Leave voters wanted to set the British Isles adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, is still very much part of the European continent.

This month saw the so-called “sausage war”, where the UK decided to extend the grace period for checks on chilled meats travelling to Northern Ireland until the end of this month, reportedly without the mutual agreement of the EU.

The EU can demand that only frozen meats can be imported into the bloc, but that also applies to Northern Ireland — which shares a land border with EU member-state the Republic of Ireland — under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which seeks to prevent a customs border with its neighbour.

The bloc threatened the UK if it delayed checks on chilled meat — and sausages — crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Irish ports, again, with the EU’s Maros Sefcovic saying earlier this month that ” if the U.K. takes further unilateral action over the coming weeks, the EU will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations”.

Tensions have also arisen over fishing access in British waters, with France threatening to cut off the electricity to the isle of Jersey if the British Crown Dependency sought to assert rights over its own territorial waters.

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