TV firms clash over European quotas

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

BRITAIN'S film, television and communications companies have clashed over the future of European-wide programme quotas, which lay down that a majority of output should be composed of 'European work' where practicable.

The split is between independent producers, established broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 on one side, who say the quota laid down in the Television Without Frontiers directive of 1989 should be tightened up and applied uniformly to new channels, and cable television operators and BSkyB who say it should be abolished.

These two strongly held views emerge from the first all-industry consultation carried out for the Department of National Heritage by the British Screen Advisory Council and published yesterday. At stake is the free access to largely American imports which provide the backbone to the new channels, but which cause deep anxiety in certain countries. Any attempts to protect European film and television production are also being watched closely by the United States.

Those seeking a fairer and tighter quota system argued that the quota should be refined, to cover the source of programmes transmitted at peak time, new works, and for a proportion of revenue to be invested in new European-made programming.

EC Audiovisual policy Green Paper: UK Industry Response is available from the British Screen Advisory Council, 96 Wardour Street, London W1V 3TE.

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