The European Parliament is due Sept. 6 to uphold European rules on television quotas, backing claims that the limits on American imports help boost local productions.


BRUSSELS (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The European Parliament is due Sept. 6 to uphold European rules on television quotas, backing claims that the limits on American imports help boost local productions.

European MPs in Strasbourg are expected to back a report drafted by France's Henri Weber that says the European Union's controversial 1989 Television Without Frontiers directive has succeeded. "Indicators in all but a few cases show a rise in the programming of European works," the report says, adding that fears about compliance have been overdone.

The parliament remains opposed to any expansion of the current quota system, with European MPs preferring voluntary initiatives. But the report says the EU should keep a close eye on new developments in the constantly evolving broadcasting industry in order to ensure European programs continue to thrive.

The report warns that the European market remains fragmented in national terms: French, German and other programs rarely cross borders. Conversely, U.S. producers are the most effective at exploiting Europe as a single broadcasting space, the report says, even though Europeans are more productive in terms of documentaries and fiction.

The report anticipates the new technologies offering more channels, but says: "More choice does not necessarily mean either better quality or greater quantity of European works," even if "digitalization and interactivity represent opportunities for both the industry and the consumers."

The Weber report calls for clearer rules on advertising -- particularly for alcohol -- and suggests governments monitor the percentage of total program output carrying services to help disabled people with, for example, subtitling, audio-description and sign language. It also calls for stronger control of non-EU channels that broadcast programs inciting racial and religious hatred in Europe.