Tuesday, May 29, 2007

EU commits to a EU AV sector without frontiers

The film festival of Cannes is over. The Golden Palm went to film maker Cristian Mungiu coming from the European country of Romenia for his movie 4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile (4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days). It must have done the EU Ministers for Culture proud.

They gathered in the past days on Europe Day at the Cannes International Film Festival to pledge their support for Europe's audiovisual industry at a time when it faces unprecedented change, driven largely by the impact of digital technologies and the resulting change in audience behaviour.

"Technological change and convergence is presenting the audiovisual industry with some tough challenges; but real opportunities lie in store for those that can best adapt," said Viviane Reding, EU Media Commissioner. "I feel that the political commitment expressed today will pave the way for the European audiovisual industry to become a powerhouse for Europe."

The EU Ministers' commitment to the audiovisual sector was underlined by their adoption of the Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers directive (see IP/07/706). This will modernise the rules for traditional and emerging audiovisual media services in response to technological change and gives more flexibility to European TV- and filmmakers to produce digital content thanks to more relaxed advertising rules.

Ministers also discussed how audiovisual policy needs to keep up with developments in film making and distribution, and the impact of technology.

Policy initiatives taken by the Commission to support and invigorate Europe's audiovisual sector include:
- The recently-launched MEDIA 2007 programme (see IP/07/169) establishes the move to digital technologies as a horizontal priority and April's call for proposals for Video On Demand and Digital Cinema Distribution projects is an important first step in financially supporting EU players.
- The European Film Online Charter endorsed by major industry players on Europe Day in 2006 (see IP/06/672) to stimulate a vibrant European online film industry.
- Content Online is estimated to grow by over 400% during the next five years (see IP/07/95). To capitalise on this tremendous opportunity for Europe, in July this year, the Commission will publish its Content Online communication.
- Recognising the importance of mobile TV to Europe - by 2009 the worldwide market will worth €11.4 billion - the Commission urged industry and Member States to be more proactive in developing a common Europe strategy (see IP/07/340). In July the Commission's will issue a communication proposing what steps it feels are needed to make will mobile TV a success in Europe.

Evidence that EU support to Europe's film industry is having positive results can be found at major international festivals such as Cannes, Berlin and at the Oscars (see IP/07/677).

While efforts are being made to boost the sector, the Commission also recognises the need for transparency, freedom of expression and diversity in Europe's media landscape. To better understand this and how best to preserve it, the Commission has outlined a three-step approach on safeguarding media pluralism (see IP/07/52).

For more on Europe's audiovisual and media policies: http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/
and the latest on the 'Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers' Directive MEMO/07/206.

Blog Post Number: 768

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