The future of local content looks risky, argue a broad variety of industry organisations from all over the world, as they encourage governments to regulate streaming platforms.
In film after film, American superheroes try to save the world from supervillains and their evil schemes of conquering Planet Earth. Ironically, the big companies behind those stories have a tendency to resemble those very supervillains - at least economy-wise. Streaming giants like Netflix, HBO, Disney+ and Prime Video are so powerful, they are changing the structures of local markets all over the world, which has led to debates on financial contribution, copyright laws and streaming taxes in a number of territories.
In the hope of seeing action from politicians soon, a large number of producers’ organisations from around the globe have issued a statement that urges regulations for the streaming giants:
“Together we represent thousands of screen industry businesses, and share a commitment to secure regulation from our respective governments that will ensure that our industry continues to both be sustainable and maintain our nation’s cultural sovereignty”, the statement begins. It goes on to list a series of principles to guide government regulation of digital streaming platforms, the first of them being: “Local content has significant cultural as well as economic importance, and is a strategic national asset.”
The statement in general expresses deep concerns about the future of local content, and suggests a financial contribution to local productions from all digital platforms. Furthermore, the statement urges the government to protect independent screen businesses and retain control of local intellectual property.
A few countries, like Denmark, Spain and France, have already requested streamers to pay levies of 5 per cent of their revenue to local content, while Australia is planning to introduce content quotas for the streamers. However, the streaming giants argue that they have introduced a new way of investing in local content for the benefit of all.
Among the supporters of the statements are EU’s European Producers Club. Managing director Alexandra Lebret says:
“The need to regulate the ownership of IP in the audiovisual production sector is not just a European issue. It is a worldwide imperative. This is because of the market pressures from the worldwide digital platforms and the increased vertical integration of our industry. Europe, through the EU Commission, has a fantastic opportunity to show world leadership by bringing forward the first IP regulation in the digital platforms market.”
Gudny Hummelvoll, President of European Producers Club, adds:
“This new regulation would allow Europe to protect European assets in the hands of those who develop and produce those works, allowing European companies to grow and scale their operations, and the European creative industries to flourish.”
In addition to the EPC, the supporters of the statement are AECINE: (Spain), Animation in Europe, AnimFrance (France), APA (Italy), APCA (Portugal), APFC (Canada), APIT (Portugal), AQPM (Canada), CEPI (EU), CMPA (Canada), EPC (EU), FIPCA (Latin America), FPS (Slovenia), PATE (Spain), Produzentenverband (Germany), SPA (Australia), SPADA (New Zealand), SPI (Ireland), UPFF+ (Belgium), and USPA (EU).
The producers’ associations of Sweden, Norway and Denmark are members of CEPI, a European audiovisual producers’ association of associations.