September 1, 2015
The European film and TV industries are expressing concern over two forces they believe threaten their well-being: Netflix and the Digital Single Market, a proposal by the European Commission to create a single European market, ending movie and TV territorial copyright barriers. International TV and film business groups coalesced against the latter proposal, arguing that the Digital Single Market would only benefit a handful of big global Internet platforms. Chief among those platforms, they believe, is Netflix.
According to Variety, the coalition’s statement notes that “mandating any form of cross-border access by EU law in the audiovisual sector would not create or increase value, but more likely lead to its transfer to the benefit of a few big global Internet platforms, which will ultimately reduce consumer choice and cultural diversity.”
This coalition isn’t alone in sounding the alarm; two debates at the Sarajevo Film Festival’s program CineLink reiterated the threat posed by Netflix, Amazon and iTunes. Absent was any discussion of the potential benefits offered by digital distribution.
The enactment of the Digital Single Market would end the practice of selling film/TV rights by territory; opponents believe that would be the death knell for independent film financing, “as few companies would be willing to license an independent film for the whole continent and big players would undermine small players, lessening competition.”
The business model would also be impacted because Netflix doesn’t help fund the production subsidies found in France, Germany, Poland and Spain among other countries, damaging the model of co-productions.
Other fears expressed by opponents of the Digital Single Market are that the likely dominance of a few digital distributors would “ultimately reduce consumer choice and cultural diversity” and that companies like Netflix don’t share data, a lack of transparency particularly loathed by European industry players.
“We are facing a cultural and business holocaust,” says Croatian Audiovisual Center’s Hrvoje Hribar. “We are bewildered, and looking at this with a chill in our hearts.”