Streaming services such as Netflix, Disney and Amazon are obliged to invest part of their turnover in Dutch productions. But if it is up to the government parties, the demands that would originally be made of the companies will be weakened.
That is the outcome of negotiations between the coalition parties, which initially could not agree on the plans submitted by State Secretary Gunay Uslu (Media).
Remarkably, Uslu itself does not appear to be involved in the compromise reached by the parties. She says she still supports her bill and wants the impulse given to the Dutch audiovisual sector to be as large as possible.
The amendment to the law, which has been agreed in the coalition agreement, is mainly intended to support independent producers of films, series and documentaries. It is difficult for them to compete with large international production companies. The streaming services should be obliged to purchase productions from them.
Uslu, like part of the House, thought that 80 percent of the investment obligation should end up with those small producers. VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie have now agreed to lower that percentage to 60.
The requirements for the type of productions are also being relaxed. The original bill concerned films, series and documentaries, but under pressure from VVD and CDA in particular, this only has to be half of the productions. The rest may also be spent on genres such as entertainment programs, reality soaps and comedy series. They are also valuable, they think.
At the same time, the percentage that the streaming services have to invest will increase slightly: from 4.5 percent to 5 percent of turnover. This should generate several million extra for the sector.
Opposition: horse trading
Opposition parties are not pleased with the compromise that the coalition parties have reached, it became clear today during a new debate in the House of Representatives. “A performance”, says PvdA member Mohammed Mohandis. “Care trading, a trading game behind the scenes,” says Lisa Westerveld of GroenLinks.
According to Peter Kwint of the SP, the coalition mainly wants to “please the streaming services a bit” and that is at the expense of the Dutch audiovisual sector. He wonders whether Uslu still supports the law with these changes. Many organizations in the sector also believe that the law now misses its target due to all the changes.
D66 Member of Parliament Jorien Wuite acknowledges that the entire process towards the compromise “deserves no beauty prize”, but she is satisfied with the result. Without the deal, the law wouldn’t have happened at all. She thinks that the investment obligation will yield about 20 million euros per year for Dutch makers.
Martin Bosma of the PVV, who himself is not in favor of the law, believes that the coalition parties have demolished the law “to the bone”. “They have skillfully put the D66 secretary of state in her shirt,” he notes.
Whether Uslu feels the same way himself, remains to be seen later. Due to time constraints, she was unable to speak today. She will respond to the amendments in the House at a later date. She previously wrote to the House that she disagrees with a number of the changes, and that “the primary purpose of the obligation to invest is largely undermined by this”.
Only when the State Secretary has responded in the House will the law be voted on. When that will happen is not yet clear.