the European Commission sensitive to Netflix’s arguments

Will the European Commission force France to revise its ambitions downwards concerning the contribution to the production of French audiovisual and cinematographic works imposed on the international giants of video streaming? The latter has indeed expressed reservations about the rules that France wants to implement in July through the SMAD decree (for “on-demand audiovisual media services”), which transposes the European directive on this subject. In the opinion delivered on Friday March 19 and that NPA Conseil obtained, the Commission is very sensitive to the arguments that Netflix had raised in a written contribution in Brussels.

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Kerstin Jorna, Director General at the Commission (internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs), underlines that the minimum production rates in French (80% for video on demand services and 85% for subscription services) are “Likely to create advantages for production companies established in France” and turn out “Significantly higher than those considered proportional by case law”. He will come back therefore “For the French authorities to justify” such thresholds.

Enough to make Pascal Rogard, Director General of the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD): “It is absurd for the Commission to tackle the promotion of the French language, especially since the case law is on our side. “ In a letter to the Commission on Thursday, March 25, the SACD recalled that “The promotion of linguistic diversity corresponds to an overriding reason in the general interest justifying setting aside the rules of the internal market”, with reference to the Uteca judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 5 March 2009 and to the Unesco Convention on the protection and promotion of cultural diversity.

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The Commission also joins Netflix in its questioning of the inclusion, in the quotas, of works by European producers controlled by groups outside Europe. Mme Jorna is concerned about the revenue base subject to contribution for mixed services (Amazon Prime type, which gives access to videos, but also to faster parcel deliveries). Mme Jorna also wants clarification on the definition of independent production and on the possible increase in the threshold for contribution to the financing of film production (20% or 25% if the platform broadcasts films released during the year).

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