Netflix, Other Streaming Services Face European Content Quotas

Proposal requires streaming services to feature 20 percent European content.

May 25, 2016, 11:56 AM
PHOTO: A sign is posted in front of the Netflix headquarters on January 22, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.
A sign is posted in front of the Netflix headquarters on January 22, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

— -- Netflix and other on-demand video services could be subject to a quota requiring them to ensure at least 20 percent of their content is European and is prominently featured, according to a new proposal posted online today by the European Commission.

The proposal was made to address the "ever-increasing convergence between television and services distributed via the internet," according to a document posted online.

"The way we watch TV or videos may have changed, but our values don't," Günther H. Oettinger, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said in a statement. "We also want to ensure a level-playing field, responsible behavior, trust and fairness in the online platforms environment."

If the proposed changes are enacted, member countries could be allowed to ask on-demand providers to invest in European productions.

"Our members around the world love European programming, that’s why our investment in European programming, including Netflix original titles created in Europe, is growing," a Netflix representative told ABC News in an email today. "We appreciate the Commission's objective to have European production flourish, however the proposed measures won't actually achieve that."

A survey conducted last year by the European Audiovisual Observatory -- a public service group created in 1992 to collect and distribute information about the audiovisual industries in Europe -- found that Netflix and iTunes already meet the proposed quota, with 21 percent of European content in their respective catalogs. The European Commission is also proposing providers give more visibility to European content by indicating the country where a film was made or providing the ability to search for European content.

Netflix expanded from 60 countries to 130 more countries at the start of this year. By widening its global footprint, Netflix now offers its content in nearly every country on Earth, with China being one of the notable exceptions.

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