Furious Netflix row erupts over French plot to axe British TV shows

An EU row has erupted on whether British TV shows should be axed from popular streaming platforms like Netflix.

France has been pushing for the UK to lose its “European” status when it comes to TV shows and films on streaming services, however Germany has warned Brussels not to “shut the door” on the UK’s creative output.

On-demand platforms must contain at least 30 percent European content in their catalogues under the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

But Paris has urged EU bosses to exclude Britain from counting towards this content, which could force services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ to remove some of its British-made content.

German MEP Sabine Verheyen has pushed back against France, however, saying: “Especially now that many British people are starting to recognise that Brexit wasn’t the best idea, we should be leaving doors open, not shutting them.

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“While we are seeking a close cooperation with the UK in areas like education or musicians’ abilities to work across borders, it makes absolutely no sense to have a different stance on film.”

The UK is one of the largest contributors to services such as Netflix, and hits like The Crown, Doctor Who and Peaky Blinders are watched across the EU.

A European Commission policy paper suggested that UK shows should not be classified as “European” because of Brexit, when the rules for the bloc are revised next year.

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“The need to re-define the concept of European works has been raised in the context of Brexit,” said the paper, reported Politico.

“It is arguable that, since the UK is no longer a member of the EU, works originating in the UK should no longer be considered as European.”

The push to remove the UK’s European status may be to promote EU-countries’ own output. British programmes made up about 28 percent of the platforms’ European investments in 2021, according to European Audiovisual Observatory figures – compared with Germany’s 21 percent and France’s 15 percent.

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The rules are defined under a 1989 treaty drawn up by the Council of Europe – which predates the EU.

But shortly after Britain left the EU, France asked the European Commission to assess the negative impact of counting British films as European, with a report in May finding that a disproportionate share of streaming platforms’ catalogues are taken up by British and British-American productions.

The UK is the biggest provider of TV series on streaming platforms at 12 percent, according to stats from the Council of Europe – meaning it alone makes up more than a third of the quota insisted upon for European works.

France is supported by Greece, Austria, Italy and Spain in its push to drive British shows from EU streaming services.

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