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Italy readies local content quotas

Broadcasters in Italy, as well as streamers such as Netflix and Amazon operating in the country, will face stringent local content quotas following regulatory changes.

Dario Franceschini

The new regulations, introduced by Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini, will see the number of homegrown shows on Italian screens ramped up over the next three years.

The changes, which amend article 44 of Italy’s Consolidated Law on Radio and Television, mean at least 55% of film and TV fiction airing in Italy will have to be produced in Europe. By 2020 this will rise to 60%, with a third of those having to be produced in Italy.

Furthermore, every national network in Italy will have to air at least one Italian-produced movie or TV series each week between 18.00 and 23.00. Pubcaster Rai will be forced to air two shows per week, with at least one being a movie.

Netflix and Amazon will face the same obligations, which are similar to those the European Commission is introducing for streamers operating across the European Union.

Italy’s Communications Authority (AgCom) will oversee compliance and will be able to hand out penalties of €5m (US$5.87m) or up to 2% of turnover to operators that fail to comply.

The changes must now pass through parliamentary committees before becoming law, with a moratorium proposed for 2018 to allow broadcasters and streamers to adapt.

Numerous international operators broadcast in Italy, including Sky, A+E Networks and Viacom, while Sony Pictures Television moved into the Italian free-to-air market for the first time earlier this year with the acquisition of two channels from Television Broadcasting System.

As part of the regulatory changes, a €400m annual fund has also been proposed to help support the Italian production industry, although details remain scant.

Franceschini described the developments as “a concrete measure that serve to help, protect and enhance Italian cinema, fiction and creativity.”

Local producers also welcomed the changes, including Francesca Cima, chairman of producers’ association Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive (ANICA) and producer at local prodco Indigo Film.

Cima said it was a sign that the government “really believes Italian audiovisual media can represent an important resource for the economy, for the cultural, industrial and professional identity and growth of this country. We do too.”

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