European film business model under discussion in the EU institutions
by Claire La Combe
- Talks have been under way over the last few days at the European Parliament in order to discuss the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy
On Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 April at the European Parliament, several talks involved European cinema. MEP Bogdan Wenta's report on European films in the digital era was presented and adopted by a large majority in Strasbourg, while Commissioner Andrus Ansip was received by the Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education to discuss the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy. In short, European cinema has to meet the digital challenge with more innovative business models, a greater audience and improved content.
Ansip, who, since January, has been reiterating his wish to enable cross-border access to all content for European citizens and has been talking continually about geo-blocking, gave a speech that was rather reassuring for the film industry. "I want more choice for consumers but also rewards for those who take risks to invest in culture." In his view, portability and cross-border accessibility, the key elements for the DSM, would not have an impact on the current system. "I didn't even think about it. (...) With the DSM strategy, we are not planning to change territoriality or existing business models."
And when MEP Helga Trupel asked about the consequences of pan-European licences on pre-financing, the commissioner insisted: "We are not planning to change the release window system or time limits." He explained that cross-border access would become compulsory only when the VoD window was opened. Until then, pan-European licences would not become a compulsory rule. For now, the Commission is remaining very vague about the concrete instruments to be used for the DSM: will there be a copyright reform, an e-commerce reform, or both? "It is too early to say," answered Ansip.
What is certain is that an impact assessment with various types of stakeholder dialogues will be organised in the context of the European Film Forum (EFF). This is part of Wenta's report, as a tool to help find new funding and promotional models in European cinema. The report encourages the industry to compete with American movies on the market, using both traditional (festivals, funds and so on) and innovative ways to help films to circulate, as well as fostering quality content and diversity in audiovisual works.
While the industry waits for more tangible EU institution initiatives, a second EFF talk has been organised in Cannes on 18 May (a fortnight after the Commission's DSM strategy announcement) on the topic, entitled "The Moving Image: Connecting European Films to a Global Audience". The EFF conclusions should be made public in late 2016.