Athens is a long way from Hollywood, so when the cash-strapped Greek government decided to shut down its national public broadcaster, the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation or ERT, it sparked huge local protests, while the news barely registered in Tinseltown. However, anyone doing business in Europe – and that includes all the studios – should pay attention given the ripple effects.
While the Greek crisis is extreme – no European democracy before has ever shut down its public broadcaster, across the continent, the ongoing economic crisis is pushing public broadcasters to tighten their belts. More often than not, that means shifting spending from U.S. movies to local news or home-grown productions. Since European public broadcasters are major buyers of U.S. dramas – particularly high-end, or non-tentpole, fare – when they cut their budgets, it is Hollywood that feels the pinch.