“The Lex Netflix can give Swiss series international visibility”

© Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

The new cinema law will not encourage streaming platforms to increase their prices in Switzerland, says Groen MP Sophie Michaud Gigon. For the secretary-general of the French-speaking consumer federation, the threats of the no camp are: unfounded.

This content was published on April 26, 2022 – 14:19

Movies and series are increasingly viewed online. However, online viewing platforms leave little room for native productions.

The new film law, presented to the public on May 15, aims to oblige streaming services to finance the creation of Swiss films and series up to 4% of their turnover in the country. Similar measures are already in place in neighboring countries. In particular, France introduced a 26% reinvestment obligation and Italy 20%.

To find out what’s at stake in the vote on the new movie bill, see our explanatory article:

However, the law was attacked in a referendum by the youth of the right-wing parties, who already consider audiovisual production sufficiently subsidized. She believes that the project completely ignores consumer needs. Green deputy and general secretary of the French-speaking consumer federation Sophie Michaud Gigon wipes away the fears of opponents.

swissinfo.ch: If the new cinema law is passed on May 15, will streaming platforms force consumers to checkout, as opponents claim?

Sophie Michaud Gigon: No, there is no correlation between the introduction of investment bonds and the prices charged by the platforms. In countries such as France, Spain or Italy, which have already introduced this measure, subscription prices have remained more advantageous than in Switzerland. Streaming services adjust their prices based on the purchasing power of the population. That is why the Swiss are already paying almost the most expensive subscriptions in the world. Netflix also raised prices at the beginning of the year. The platform does not require an investment obligation for this. The real problem we have to fight is the high cost island represented by Switzerland that affects all products. It has nothing to do with the movie law.

If they don’t raise prices, won’t the streaming giants limit their offerings in Switzerland in order to reinvest less?

The platforms are free to choose what they want to broadcast in each country. The various services are in fierce competition to attract the public. Netflix is ​​not going to limit its offer and thus leave market share to Apple or Amazon. From a business point of view, that wouldn’t make sense. In addition, many European countries already have an investment obligation, which is between 1% and 26% [en France], or a direct tax. By asking a reinvestment rate of 4%, Switzerland is therefore rather modest. There is no reason for this measure to influence the supply of suppliers. In addition, the platforms themselves are not campaigning against the new law. They are ready to apply it, as they are already doing in many other countries.

Young people from the right-wing parties behind the referendum think we want to tell them what to watch out for. Do you understand their fears?

Are they afraid of only being able to see Heidi on their streaming platform? That will not happen soon, because otherwise young people simply opt for a different service. The purpose of the law is not to force Netflix to exclusively offer Swiss films. The platforms will continue to choose the products they self-broadcast to attract users. However, they are currently making significant profits in Switzerland, all of which go abroad. Thanks to the new legislation, a small part of their income is invested with us. The mechanism already exists for televisions. There is no reason to exempt video-on-demand services. In addition, it can help certain Swiss series to gain international visibility.

In Switzerland, funding for independent audiovisual production today amounts to about 105 million francs a year. Is that not enough?

No, these are modest amounts that prevent the industry from developing sufficiently, given the high costs of film production. Moreover, this mechanism will not only strengthen the audiovisual sector, but also have positive effects on the Swiss economy as a whole. If a shoot takes place in Switzerland, the teams consume on the spot. In this way hotels, restaurants and regional companies benefit from this.

Opponents of the law find the obligation to broadcast 30% of European films discriminatory. How do you answer them?

On the contrary, this quota makes it possible to increase diversity. It is normal to give some form of support to productions that are close to home. It doesn’t change anything for the consumer. However, non-European productions will not disappear from the programming. International streaming services already meet this requirement as it is a European Union directive adopted in 2019. As far as the Swiss television channels are concerned, they already have a quota of 50%.

Young Green Liberals co-chair Virginie Cavalli is campaigning against the new movie law. In an interview she explains why:

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