Brexit: Lord Adonis says UK ‘could rejoin the EU’
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But the Brexit minister warned the Government is powerless to stop the EU from carrying out its revenge plot. Eurocrats want to dramatically cut the amount of UK entertainment content, claiming it is a threat to Europe’s “cultural diversity”. The move would be a hammer blow to the UK industry which is hugely boosted by £1.4billion in sales from the international rights to shows.
Responding to the threat, Lord Frost told MPs: “We’re in favour of free circulation of audiovisual goods as of other goods.
“If the EU choose to harm themselves and their viewers by excluding some categories of UK content we can’t stop them, but I’m sure good sense will prevail and we won’t be in that position.”
He said the move is largely a “traditional position” of the French when it comes to audiovisual arrangements.
And he predicted that there is a long time to go before any final decisions are made in Brussels, he told the Commons’ Foreign Affairs committee.
Lord Frost’s remarks come after it emerged EU wants lots more TV made in the bloc, which might deprive Continental streaming viewers of UK blockbuster shows.
EU chiefs want fewer popular UK-made shows and films but more content produced in mainland Europe, especially by smaller states such as Cyprus and Latvia.
In a memo sent to member states, the EU Commission bemoaned the “disproportionate” amount of British-made shows hosted on major providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Officials claimed this presents a danger to the “promotion of European works and cultural diversity” within the EU bloc.
The UK is Europe’s biggest producer of film and TV footage, with the sale of international rights worth around £1.4billion.
British media dominance has irritated countries including France and Spain, where leaders want to boot our shows off the airwaves.
Despite Brexit, UK-filmed content is still classed as “European works” meaning Britain has a “disproportionate presence” on EU residents’ screens, say Eurocrats.
The EU’s audiovisual media services directive says the majority of airtime must be given to European content on terrestrial television.
While it must make up nearly one third of content provided by video on demand (VOD) services such as Amazon and Netflix.
The memo adds: “The concerns relate to how Brexit will impact the audio visual production sector in the European Union as, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory, the UK provides half of the European TV content presence ofVOD in Europe and the UK works are the most actively promoted on VOD.
“Although the UK is now a third country for the European Union, its audiovisual content still qualifies as ‘European works’.”
Although Britain is no longer in the EU it remains a member of the Council of Europe, which oversees a 1989 agreement linking broadcasting licences. TV industry insiders say the change would hit British dramas hard as the pre-sale of international rights to hit shows such as Downton Abbey and The Crown helps to bankroll the programmes’ costly production.
It is thought France will push for reform when it takes over the bloc’s rotating presidency in January.
French president Emmanuel Macron already wants to use agenda-setting powers to end the use of English in Brussels.
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