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LEGISLATION Europe

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EFADs speaks out on geo-blocking regulation

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- The association says the inclusion of audiovisual services in geo-blocking regulation would mean European audiences have fewer new European works to enjoy

EFADs speaks out on geo-blocking regulation

Ahead of the Legal Affairs (JURI) committee vote on 23 March and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee vote in April on the proposal for a Regulation on addressing geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination, the European Film Agency Directors (EFADs) intend to raise concerns with amendments proposed by Members of the European Parliament.

The association firmly believes that “the removal of geo-blocking will have the opposite effects and harm the financing and efficient distribution of European works in our countries”. According to them, “evidence suggests that the consequences of this will be diminished investment, a reduction in the value of rights, weaker competition, fewer European audiovisual works and co-productions, and less access, all to the detriment of European audiences and cultural diversity”. The EFADs therefore call on MEPs to reject the amendments proposed in these two committees that include audiovisual online services in the scope of the regulation (Article 1) and include these services in the review clause (Article 9).

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Being an active agent in promoting cultural diversity and facilitating cultural exchange, the EFADs claim that “it is crucial that territorial exclusivity is not undermined.This fundamental principle encourages investment in production and the circulation of our works territory by territory based on local distribution which is more efficient for attracting local audiences.” “The inclusion of audiovisual online services in the Geo-blocking Regulation will harm the financing of European works by making territorial exclusivity impossible to enforce. For example, for a TV series such as The Young Pope, the incentive for broadcasters such as Sky UK and Canal+ to invest during the production phase as co-producers and C More Entertainment to buy the rights for Sweden after production would have been greatly reduced if exclusivity was not guaranteed. The possibility that their national audience can already access the series online from another country when they broadcast it - due to different release windows - would increase the risk of investment”. 

As the statement continues, the EFADs say “the same uncertainty would be faced by cinemas showing European feature films and other actors of the value chain, ultimately reducing the incentive to invest and the value of rights. Evidence suggests that this would lead to the following consequences: a deterioration of cultural diversity in Europe and less choice for European audiences, weaker circulation and distribution to local European audiences and a concentration of power in the hands of dominant players. 

The EFADs want to encourage legislators to focus instead on fighting piracy, developing legal offers in the different Member States, and ensuring the promotion of European works and data transparency on their performance on VoD services, as well as building, with local distributors, the audience and appetite for a variety of European works and supporting film education and media literacy initiatives to build the future audience.

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