For all the everyday complaints about imported programming, Europe's TV broadcasters are comfortably exceeding local content quotas set down by the Television Without Frontiers directive. According to a European Commission report broadcasters devote an average 62% of airtime to European works in 2000, up from 60.7% in 1999. The minimum quota currently stands at 40%.
"This trend reflects increasing public demand for national and European works, especially of fiction. It testifies to the vitality of our cultural diversity and may be connected with the improvement in the fortunes of European cinema", said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for culture and audiovisual affairs.
She also said that, at the end of the year, she would present a report on the application of the Directive as a whole to the Commission, accompanied by a programme of work for 2003 to prepare for a proposal to amend the Directive, when the time came, taking account of economic and technical developments in the sector.
In 2000, 72.5% of European broadcasters either met or exceeded the target for European works, a feat all the more remarkable at a time when the number of television broadcasters was rapidly increasing. The number of channels logged grew from 550 at the beginning of 1999 to 670 at the beginning of 2000 and 820 at the beginning of 2001, excluding regional broadcasters.
The report also said that the average broadcasting time for independent producers' works, especially recent ones, was 37.5% in 1999 and 40.5% in 2000, well above the threshold of 10% set out by the directive.
The 10% rule excludes time devoted to news, sports events, games, advertising and teletext and teleshopping services. National averages ranged from 21% (Greece) to 59% (France) of broadcasting time. In 2000, as in 1999, 85% of the European broadcasters met the independent programming target.
Broadcast of European works
Average % transmission time of European works*
Country / 1999 / 2000 / Growth
Austria / 56.6 / 58.8 / +2.2
Bel / 59.29 / 60.23 / +0.94
Ger / 60.22 / 63 / +2.78
Den / 60.66 / 61 / +0.34
Greece / 71.46 / 71.18 / -0.28
Spain / 52.94 / 58.50 / +5.56
France / 67.42 / 69 / +1.58
Ireland / 54.17 / 55.33 / +1.16
Italy / 65.9 / 65.98 / +0.08
Lux. / 100(2) / 100 / 0
Neth / 68 / 67.6 / -0.40
Portugal / 48.7 / 49.5 / +0.8
Finland / 66.25 / 69.5 / +3.25
Sweden / 73.83 / 74.45 / +0.62
UK / 64 / 68.8 / +4.8
EU Ave / 60.68 / 62.18 / +1.50
Source : European Commission, November 2002
* (as defined by article 4 of the Television Without Frontiers directive)