Disney pledges to hit quota amid Italian toon row

Disney Italy will not seek a further year’s exemption to an EU law that dictates European channels must invest 10% of local revenues on local productions, TBI has learned.

Disney has caused ire in Italy after local regulator AGCOM allowed it a derogation – or exemption – to the EU directive in 2013 and this year.

This meant the Mouse House did not have to legally invest at the 10% level, but a Disney EMEA spokesman today told TBI the firm’s level of investment in Italy would reach that point next year, meaning it does not need the exemption.

“Disney sought partial exemptions in 2013 and 2014. Those won’t be renewed and it will be continuing as normal in 2015,” Disney said in a statement.

Disney is understood to have been investing at around a 7.5-8% level in the past two years.

It is unclear if AGCOM has revealed Disney’s intentions to the local animation industry, as a trio of production bodies slammed both the regulator and Disney this week.

“We have taken all the political and administrative steps to make sure that the measure, which is set to expire at the end of 2014, will not be renewed and, of course, we are open to Disney Italy to undertake the desired path based on the common grounds of artistic quality and content,” said Italian producers association Cartoon Italia, Lombardy-based body Cartoon Lombardia and artists and authors union ASIFA Italy on Tuesday.

The bodies defended Italian production, while pointing to a statement that they attributed to Disney Italy, which stated local productions did not meet Disney standards.

There was a lack of shows “that can faithfully represent the value systems and levels of quality necessary to fully meet the specific demands of the target audience”, the bodies claimed Disney said.

The bodies added they were on the “warpath”, and noted local producers have been outraged as they allege AGCOM came to its decision over the exemption without consulting them.

AGCOM couldn’t be contacted for comment before press time.

The toon bodies characterised the Italian animation sector as a vibrant industry of 70 companies and 3,000 employees animators, including freelancers, that was helping to supply hundreds of hours of shows and films through European coproduction agreements.

The they added the Disney derogation “represents very heavy financial losses, severe defamation and denigration of our products”. Well-known Italian productions include Rainbow’s Winx Club, which Netflix is rebooting, and Geronimo Stilton, which local studio Atlantyca Entertainment has sold around the world.

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