The European Parliament witnessed the power of Nordic drama series during a fascinating event organized by the EBU’s Nordic Members on Tuesday 24 January. EU deciders paid tribute to some of their favorite series and also addressed key Digital Single Market policy issues.
In a keynote address, EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager praised the impact of series like Borgen, The Killing, Skam and The Bridge as a means of reflecting culture, as well as helping people reflect on culture, and followed up by highlighting the key role played by public service media (PSM) in this regard.
Vestager said: “it’s why our rules on state aid recognize that public money can have a vital role in supporting culture. It can help to finance films and TV programmes that speak to people in their own languages, and reflect their own cultures.”
“We know that public service broadcasters play a very special role, one that’s not always the same from one country to another. So our rules leave it to governments to decide what a public service broadcaster should do.”
She also reflected on draft EU copyright rules aiming to facilitate the online circulation of broadcasters’ programmes, stating: “By extending the so-called ‘country of origin principle’ to some types of online service, we’ll help broadcasters to make the vast majority of their content available online in other Member States as well. But we’re doing that in a way that respects the basic principles of copyright, including the fact that, here in Europe copyright is territorial. Instead of one single right for the whole of Europe, there's a separate copyright in each country. And the modifications we’re proposing don't change that in any way.”
Looking at the recent success of Nordic Drama series worldwide, DR Director Maria Rørbye Rønn meanwhile stressed that strong public and commercial broadcasters go hand in hand with a strong creative sector. She remained coy however when prompted to launch a Borgen-like series about the EU by the Commissioner.
SR Director Cilla Benkö concluded the event by highlighting the importance of public service media, notably when it comes to informing people: “The audience has been able to learn the facts of what has happened, but we have also been quick to explain why things are happening, and what the consequences for the future might be. Our news items are accurate – they are not fake - and we help the audience with the essential step of analysis. We help them to understand – but, and this is extremely important, then they can and must form their own views. We don't tell people what they should think. Instead we help them to reach their own conclusions and to make their own informed decisions on a range of different issues.”
The event was organized by EBU Members SVT, UR and SR (Sweden), NRK (Norway), DR (Denmark, YLE (Finland) and RÚV (Iceland). It was kindly hosted in the European Parliament by MEPs Christel Schaldemose and Morten Løkkegaard.