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'Television without frontiers'

That is the name of an EU directive on matters televisual. If, as the saying goes, it does what it says on the tin, one would hope it would be a clarion call to free trade in goods and services. But it does not:

"Article 4 of the “Television without Frontiers” Directive calls upon EU Member States to ensure "where practicable and by appropriate means" that broadcasters within their jurisdiction reserve the majority of their transmission time for European works".

Prima facie this sounds like a pretty grotesque violation of the GATT agreements, and one can be stone-cold certain just which originator of material this is aimed at - the US of A, of course.

The release goes on to show the percentage of material shown in each market that originates in the EU, with Sweden bottom of the class at 45% and ourselves (53%), Slovenia (52%), the Irish Republic (55%) and Greece (55%) also all on the naughty step. Poland (81%) and Denmark (81%) are this year's teacher's pets.

The item doe not make clear quite what constitutes the broadcasting universe per market - all TV stations including those weird shopping / religious / music etc etc channels one sees when channel surfing when at a Sky-enabled house, those available through a normal television or whatever. However it is calculated, it must be broadcasters overall not broadcasters one by one. Otherwise the likes of Five USA let alone the likes of the Tamil film channels would be regulated out of existence. Further, those raw figures tell nothing about what is popular, what is scheduled when and where and so on.

However, the overall point remains that the EU is in its usual way showing scant regard either for free trade or the wishes of the populace. Should the entire population of Cyprus wish to sit down to back to back repeats of 'Gilligan's Island' or Denmark discover the delights of Australian soap operas, their governments should not be facing even mild criticism from the EU - it is none of its damned business, frankly.

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