Government doubles down on 30% local content quota for Netflix

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) has stressed the importance of imposing a 30% local content quota on Netflix and other international streaming services.

This statement was made in a presentation to parliament that outlined the key draft policy proposals present in the approved Draft White Paper on Audio and Audiovisual Content Service Policy Framework.

One of the proposed changes in the whitepaper is the imposition of a content quota for streaming services, which the department has now labelled as “one of the most important changes” and “one of the most positive policy proposals”.

DCDT chief director of broadcasting policy Collin Mashile noted that this policy is still in a draft phase and is open for comment from the public and stakeholders.

“The spirit behind this whitepaper is to ensure a future for the South African broadcasting sector,” he said.

The department has received close to 20,000 comments so far, and in line with requests from various stakeholders, the deadline for comments on the policy proposal has been extended to 15 February 2021.

Regarding the imposition of local content quotas on streaming services, Mashile said that this is a crucial point of the proposed legislation.

Local content quotas on streaming services

Mashile lauded the high audience numbers and revenue performance of South African drama and music, stating that this should be enabled by further policy interventions within the audiovisual broadcasting space.

“Where video-on-demand subscription services come and operate in South Africa, everything that they show to South Africans in terms of their catalogue – 30% of that catalogue must be South African content,” Mashile said.

“What this means is that we are trying to create opportunities for the production and creative industry sector.”

This means that streaming services including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Showmax will be required to fill their catalogue with 30% locally-produced content.

Mashile also pointed to shows like Queen Sono as the potential positive impact of this proposed change.

“Now you are seeing various subscription services producing very good, high-quality South African content like Queen Sono and others,” he said.

“This is one of the most positive policy proposals because of its intended goals.”

One of the questions asked by many detractors of this proposal was why the government believed South Africans wanted a local content quota for streaming services.

Mashile addressed this by pointing to the popularity of local shows in South Africa.

“We were asked where we got the idea that South Africans are interested in this 30%,” he said.

“The most popular shows in every country remain the local shows.”

Now read: New SABC TV licence fees for Netflix – Have your say

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Government doubles down on 30% local content quota for Netflix