At stake is the transposition of a 2018 European directive that aims to regulate, among member states, the activity of television services and audiovisual on-demand services, known as VOD (‘video on demand’), such as the Neflix, HBO and Amazon platforms.
“From now on – this is the directive’s great opportunity – all foreign operators will be obliged to invest in Portugal,” said Nuno Artur Silva, although the government’s bill that transposes the European directive presents different financing models for various television operators.
Nuno Artur Silva says he’d rather “have an investment from a foreign operator really committed to taking national content and taking it on their platforms all over the world than take no interest in the national market and leave a fee that we can manage as we please. It’s still a gain, but it seems to me that the first option is more interesting”.
The draft law transposing the Community directive was approved in Parliament, in general, on 10 July, and the legal deadline for public consultation, for the submission of contributions from entities and associations involved in the matter, ends today.
According to Nuno Artur Silva, the legislative process will resume after the parliamentary holidays, and “there will be a discussion on what final form the transposition will take”, and some specifications of the law may be referred for a decree-law.
The deadline for the transposition of the European directive is September, but the Secretary of State points to the end of the year, taking advantage of “a European tolerance at this time in the face of the pandemic situation”, and recalling that, in January, Portugal begins the rotating presidency of the European Union.
In transposing the European directive on the activity of television services, the Portuguese Government will also have to create more mechanisms to protect consumers, in particular minors, to strengthen access to television services for people with disabilities and special needs, and to prevent hate speech and incitement to violence and terrorism.
In the general parliamentary debate on July 9, Nuno Artur Silva said that the operators’ investment obligations – be they television channels, subscription channels or ‘streaming’ platforms – in cinema and audiovisual will be progressive depending on the volume of revenues.
Operators will be able to choose “to have their contributions based on revenue, the number of subscribers or a flat rate according to the income bracket in which they fall”.
At the time of the debate, the Cinema Platform, which brings together 13 associations in the sector, regretted the “disastrous political choice” of not taxing audiovisual service operators on demand, which include some of the ‘giants’ of ‘streaming’.
For the Cinema Platform, the proposed law creates different regimes for television channels and for those new operators, which causes the state “to give up its regulatory role and put at risk the legal architecture of public financing of cinema and audiovisual”.
Nuno Artur Silva warned today that not all actors in the sector think the same way and that it will be up to the legislation to “harmonize this”.
More than a dozen contributions have already been sent in relation to the proposed law, including from the National Commission for Data Protection, the Journalists’ Union, the Association of Electronic Communications Operators and the Netflix platform, can be consulted on the official website of Parliament.
This ‘streaming’ platform and international production company – which gathers more than 160 million signatures around the world – asks for a clarification of definitions in the proposed law, regarding precisely the options of investment obligation in Portuguese cinema and audiovisual.
“It would be useful to specify that the choice between these alternatives can be exercised by operators entirely freely”, thus avoiding a “simultaneous imposition of investment obligations and additional fees”, says the director of institutional relations of Netflix Spain and Portugal, Esperanza Ináñez, in her contribution.