Country Focus: Belgium
Belgium to make most of EU presidency to support European audiovisual sector
by Aurore Engelen
- A conference on support for the audiovisual sector in Europe was organised at the start of this week as part of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council. An ambivalent sector which falls within the orbit of both culture and economics, the audiovisual industry raises the issue of state aids, which are normally incompatible with European law.
Indeed, two special dispensations are generally invoked: one economic, the other cultural. These special dispensations, as well as the usual texts and directives introduced, ensure there is a specific legal basis that recognises the double specificity of the sector.
The aim of this conference was to comment on and examine the application of two fundamental texts: the former “Television Without Frontiers” directive, renamed AMS (Audiovisual Media Services) in 2007, and the Cinema Communication.
In 2007, the former helped make provision for the drawing up of a legislative framework adapted to the new non-linear services. It also encouraged EU member states to ensure that the services in question actively promote European works on their broadcasting channels.
Two and a half years later, the professionals gathered together this Monday looked at existing good practice. While few states have been able to implement concrete control initiatives, two types of measures are planned: financial contributions, or a “control” of catalogues.
The latter text, Cinema Communication, aims to ensure that state aids for film are compatible with European regulations. Drawn up in 2001, the professionals remarked that the sector had developed a great deal since its introduction. At the time, production was the central concern, but today we realise that support for the sector requires an approach that incorporates its cultural, competitive and industrial dimensions, and above all, looks at all the stages of audiovisual creation, from writing to distribution.
The Belgian French Community Audiovisual Minister Fadila Laanan promised to pass on these conclusions to her European counterparts and the European Commission, so they can competently prepare the new Cinema Communication, planned for 2012. More conference days will be held in September.