Global platforms still silent with Catalan

The CAC notes that HBO only has 0.1% of its catalogue in Catalan, Disney+ 0.8% and Amazon 1.3%

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The Last Jedi', one of the films available in Catalan at Disney+

BarcelonaIn May 2020, the Consell Audiovisual de Catalunya (CAC) put numbers to what all Catalan-speaking Netflix users already knew: that the platform maintains a residual presence of Catalan in its content. A year later, the organization has also analyzed three other global operators, such as HBO, Disney+ and Amazon. And the results are equally discouraging, with percentages ranging between 0.1% and 1.3% of the catalogue with versions dubbed or subtitled in Catalonia's own language. This is explained in a report that, for comparison, also shows the local case of Filmin, which has 18.9% of its catalogue in Catalan.

HBO is the red lantern of the platforms in terms of linguistic normalization. The only vestige of Catalan is the original version it offers of a film shot in this language, which means only a meagre 0.1% of its total catalogue, made up of 1,725 audiovisual works. In reality the percentage is 0.06%, but in the report it benefits from rounding to one decimal place. In the case of Disney+, when the monitoring was carried out, there were only three films in Catalan, but the recent addition of 10 more titles means that the percentage of the total catalogue has risen to 0.8%. Amazon leads the group, albeit with a meagre 1.3%, as it has 71 works in Catalan (original, dubbed or subtitled) out of a total of 5,585 titles. In all three cases, the contrast with Filmin is striking: the Catalan platform has 1,949 works available in Catalan, 18.9% of its total catalogue. When the Netflix report was made last year, the percentage was only 0.5%, which has not moved significantly in the last thirteen months.

The Generalitat promotes dubbing in Catalan in two ways: with subsidies granted by the Directorate General of Linguistic Policy -mainly designed for theatrical release- and through the dubbing that TV3 undertakes of the films it broadcasts. In both cases, the resulting audio track is offered free of charge to distributors who wish to publish it on physical media or post it on their video-on-demand services. The reality, however, is that in the vast majority of cases these dubbings die once the film has been withdrawn from theatres or has already been offered by the Catalan public channel. The pretexts offered by the platforms range from technical considerations - HBO assures that it can only have two audio tracks - to internal business issues, since within the same business group the exploitation in cinemas and in streaming often corresponds to two different companies.

Oh, Europe

In practice, the platforms are under no obligation to comply with a minimum deference to the Catalan language. But the EU directive on audiovisual services does oblige them to have 30% of their catalogue made up of European works. Amazon Prime Video is the only one that exceeds this minimum percentage as the streaming giants with 34.3% of the titles it offers coming from Europe. HBO reaches 25% and Disney+ is barely at 4.5%, since most of its offerings are its own productions, which it treasures after practically a century of activity. Once again, Filmin -more focused on independent films and films from the festival circuit- makes the rest of the films stand out: 65.7% of the catalogue corresponds to European works.

But Europe doesn't only force quotas: it also demands that these works have visibility and are not buried in the guts of the platforms, accessible only after fifteen years of activity scrolls. Under this parameter, Disney has configured the algorithm so that if it detects an interest in Spanish productions, it offers 12.6% of European works on the first access screens. HBO can show up to 40% of European works at the beginning. In the case of Amazon, on the other hand, although it achieves the quota, it does very low promotion. Only after moving towards the lower screens do titles begin to appear in a significant way.

Another curious fact from the report is the treatment of classics (which is how movies over 20 years old are considered). On HBO and Disney+, less than 10% of the catalogue is from the 20th century, while films and seasons from the last ten years account for 70% of the total. Amazon has more consideration for the classics, since they reach 19.2% of the catalogue. In the case of Filmin, the percentage rises to 24.3%. The report was approved by a plenary session of the CAC with three votes in favor and the opposing vote of councilor Daniel Sirera, proposed by PP, which is accustomed to censure the incursions of the Catalan regulatory body in the analysis of the Spanish or international scene.