Germany mulls quota for homegrown TV

Germany mulls quota for homegrown TV
COLOGNE, Germany -- Are "House", "CSI: Miami", "Monk" and "Desperate Housewives" a threat to the German TV industry? That seems to be the opinion of several local politicians who are calling for a quota for homemade series on German primetime.

"A quota for German series could preserve our TV production industry," Erwin Ruddel, a media spokesman for the conservative CDU told German tabloid Bild Zeitung in a story published Wednesday. "The Germany industry shouldn't get a raw deal."

A quota to keep U.S. series out might seem extreme, but things are starting to look dire for German TV producers. Five years ago, German series dominated primetime. The low-budget hospital drama "Nikola" on commercial channel RTL outperformed "ER" in the ratings by a factor of two or three.

Then came "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives". Then came "CSI". Then came "House". The recent renaissance in U.S. series has driven German shows off the schedule. Across the main commercial networks, there is only one German-made series in primetime: RTL's long-running Autobahn cops show "Alarm for Cobra 11".

While German commercial broadcasters are still producing plenty of shows, they now tend to be low-budget reality or local-language knockoffs of international formats such as "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and "American Idol".

German parliamentarian and former TV journalist Reinhard Grindel of the CDU is pushing German channels to introduce a voluntary quota of homemade series.

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