New Italian Media Law Sparks Rallying Cry From European Producers

The European Producers Club, which represents top independent film and TV drama producers across continental Europe, has joined a rallying cry launched by Italy’s indie producers over the imminent prospect that the Italian government will lower local investment obligations for streamers.

Just as the Italian parliament is set to revise the country’s current media legislation, the Paris-based lobbying group, representing 170 prominent European independent film and TV drama producers, has issued an “urgent” call to action clamoring for Italy to “uphold its 20% investment obligation level, establish ambitious quotas for Italian works,and introduce protective measures for assets and IP.”

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Italy’s current media law simply implements Europe’s so-called Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which forces foreign streaming services to invest a portion of their revenue into local productions but leaves the modalities of this obligation to each individual country. The Italian law currently requires streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to invest 20% of their local revenue in European productions and to spend no less than half of that sum on producing Italian content.

But the country’s right-wing government, installed in September 2022, is now in advanced stages of revising the media law by lowering streamers’ investment obligations levels and removing other clauses that currently oblige streamers to let Italian indie producers hold on to a portion of a property’s rights.

Italy’s motion picture association ANICA, which is up in arms, has asked in a statement for “existing investment quota obligations to be maintained and sub-quotas pertaining to Italian content, and cinema in particular, to be increased, as well as the introduction of a sub-quota pertaining to animation.”

“Italy, once a frontrunner alongside France and Portugal in setting ambitious investment obligations to protect and promote the independent production sector, is now at a crossroads,” reads the EPC statement. “These obligations, vital for safeguarding cultural diversity and boosting the audiovisual
production sector, face potential dilution that could undermine their effectiveness.”

“The new law is being discussed in parliament, so it is not yet cast in stone,” Benedetto Habib, who heads the Italian producers’ union, told Variety. “But I think it’s very doubtful that they are going to make improvement in the revisions that are being drafted,” Habib, who is partner in Italy’s Indiana Productions, noted.

There was no comment from Netflix.

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