EU plans big shakeup for video streaming services

Changes may be afoot for the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant. The European Union has proposed new regulations for both online and traditional TV services, including adding more European content, improving age verification and more.

National broadcasters are already required to dedicate approximately half their schedule to domestically-made programmes, and the authorities want streaming services to do something similar, and make sure that at least 20% of their catalogues are made in Europe.

There's concern in the EU that the dominance of American-made programmes on the UK's subscription video services threatens "European cultural diversity." Gunther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy, said: ""The way we watch TV or videos may have changed, but our values don't."

Netflix has hit back against this rule, as it thinks companies will start buying up cheap - potentially low quality - European shows just to meet that quota. In addition, the US-based company could have to reduce its library of American shows and movies to ensure it's not more than 80% of the service.

Besides, a spokesperson said, the company's already investing in European programming: "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."

On the other hand, some experts believe that a quota wouldn't dramatically change things in the UK, as services already carry loads of BBC and other UK-made shows.

AS well as more domestic content, the EU has also said it wants better age verification and parental controls on online services to protect the kiddies from mature content, and the ability to flag content that's potentially harmful or an "incitement to hatred".

To support all these new rules, the EU wants the continent's regulators to be made completely independent from government, so that they can protect the interest of the viewers. That won't make a difference to us here in Blighty, as Ofcom is already an independent regulator, but it would be a big deal in some of the other countries in the EU.

One more change proposed for traditional TV is a loosening of advertising restrictions. Live TV broadcasters are under threat from the proliferation of online on demand services - it's increasingly clear this is what the next generation is favouring - so the EU believes this will help them compete.

At the moment, broadcasters are allowed to show 12 minutes of adverts per hour during prime time, but this limit may be relaxed. That means that popular shows could have longer advert breaks, and as a result more advertising revenue for the broadcaster.

Now that the proposals have been published they'll be discussed and revised by member nations over the coming months, if not longer. Then, a decision will be made as to whether or not to adopt the rules.

Source: TechRadar | BBC

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