Euro MPs Misunderstand Why People Watch Netflix And Amazon In The First Place

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If they’ve enough brains to get yourself elected onto the European gravy train – something I failed to do and therefore don’t have – then you would assume, wrongly, that these people had enough brains to understand why people use on demand video services like Netflix and Amazon. Because, obviously enough, they prefer the offerings on Netflix and Amazon to those on the more traditional and more regulated channels. Customer preferences have spoken that is.

OK, if you’ve got yourself onto the European gravy train you probably don’t think that the people out there should just be allowed to do whatever they desire, that’s not the point at all, is it? They should do what they’re told. And thus we get this demand for percentages of local content to be available on these services. Because Europeans should be force fed European bilge, right?

This still fails of course, as even bears of very little brain would realise, because it is still the consumers who get to decide what they watch. It’s an on demand service, see?

Netflix and Amazon will have to greatly increase the amount of European material in their catalogues to meet quotas proposed by Brussels.

The streaming services fall well short of a proposed target of 30pc of their material being produced within the EU, which could be approved by MEPs as early as this year.

Research from Ampere Analysis found that only 17pc of titles in Netflix’s catalogue in the UK came from Europe. In France, Spain, Italy and Germany it varied from 13pc to 27pc.

Only 18pc of titles in Amazon Prime Video’s UK catalogue, meanwhile, come from Europe. The figures are similarly below 30pc when measured by the hours of material on each service instead of the number of titles.

Note what isn’t being demanded, for that would be too stupid even for MEPs, that 30% of what is watched be European. This has been brewing up for some time, of course it has:

Netflix and other video-on-demand platforms could be required to include a minimum 30% of European content—more than the Commission’s proposed 20% quota, if new broadcasting rules follow a report approved yesterday (25 April) by MEPs in the Culture Committee.

Online services like Netflix balked last year when the European Commission announced a proposal to apply the audiovisual media services directive, which were last updated in 2010, to video-on-demand platforms.

Even the Americans have noticed:

Streaming-video providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video would be required to dedicate at least 30% of their on-demand catalogs to European content, under a proposed European Union law announced Thursday.

The thing is we know how these sorts of plans work out. France has long insisted that a certain amount of French language – and often French produced – material be played upon radio stations. So, there’s a cottage industry in recording songs in French. Which then sell 15 copies – enough for one to each radio station – which are then played at 3 am when even Frenchmen are asleep. This meets the quota and the daytime hours, when adverts are worth something, is in English just as the listeners want it to be.

Given that we’re talking about on demand services here even that much chicanery won’t be necessary. Buy up the rights to some set of old European shlock and have it available in the catalogue and we’re done. There will be tapes of old Danish game shows out there, Greek chat shows, French – Que Dieu nous aide – intellectual debates. The rights to each entire series costing perhaps €1 in perpetuity. Stick them up and we’re done. Judging by the standard output of Portuguese TV there’re thousands upon thousands of hours of accordion music available.

No one will watch them of course, just as they didn’t first time around. The law will have had no effect other than to signal the cultural sensitivity – and economic stupidity – of MEPs. But then what would politics be if it wasn’t mere such signalling?