YouTube must cater to Europe

People fed up of not being able to find culturally relevant content online could find their situation improved as a result of new EU rules for online platforms.

Video-sharing platforms such as YouTube will be required to make sure that at least 30% of the content they offer to users in the EU is of European origin, under rules agreed by the European Parliament on 2 October.

“In order to increase cultural diversity and promote European content, the new legislation proposes that 30% of content of TV channels and video-on-demand platforms would have to be European,” the Parliament said in a statement.

It clarified: “The revised legislation would not only apply to traditional broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to live streaming on video-sharing platforms.”

To qualify as European, content will have to have been made by companies based in the EU or in European countries that have signed up to an EU convention on television.

The European Commission, which proposed the rules, said that meeting the new rules “should not be a significant burden for businesses”. A 2015 study found that EU films already make up 21% of the films available on Netflix and iTunes, it said.

But some industry figures aren’t happy. Bert Habets, CEO of the Luxembourg-based digital media group of companies RTL Group, said he wasn’t keen on the decision. “The interest of our audience in combination with the power of creative storytelling should be the reason to create European content,” he said.

The rules are expected to come into force between 2019 and 2021.

Words: Craig Nicholson

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