The Digital Single Market and the European audiovisual system
by Camillo De Marco
- VENICE 2015: The conference was held in Venice by ANICA, the European Producers Club (EPC), and the Directorate-General for Cinema of the MiBACT
"The audiovisual world has always been forced to engage with technological transformations. For a producer, the potential of new distribution methods is an opportunity to reach a more diverse and bigger audience". It was with this statement that the President of ANICA, Riccardo Tozzi, defined the scope of international conference "The Digital Single Market and the European audiovisual system", which was held yesterday in Venice as part of the 72nd Venice Film Festival.
The conference was organised, just a few months away from the European Commission’s presentation of its Strategy for a Single Digital Market and in the run-up to a possible proposal for a review of the copyright directive, to analyse the possible impact of the Strategy on the audiovisual sector. So ANICA, the European Producers Club (EPC), and the Directorate-General for Cinema of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Cinemadel, in collaboration with the Venice Film Festival, invited Italian and European institutions to come and speak on the subject.
Producers are concerned above all by the general structure of the proposal, which shows a keen interest in widening access to content by final users, but hardly focuses on content itself or its production.
"Production risk is calculated based on the sum of the values of the individual links in the distribution chain – pointed out Riccardo Tozzi. "Instead, operators should be banned from buying up rights without using them simply to stop others from using them. At any rate – added the President of ANICA – you can’t untangle knots by trying to them out, but by working at them patiently whilst being fully aware of the situation. Europe – concluded Tozzi – has the huge potential to tell its own story. We have to be careful that we don’t end up just kicking about on our own with false modernism”.
"It’s highly significant that dialogue has opened between the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education and the European Commissioner for the digital economy, Commissioner Oettinger, and between the Commission and operators”, declared Ms Silvia Costa, The Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education of the Parliament in Strasbourg. "The aim is to go beyond the initial configuration of the European Strategy for the Digital Single Market, which I myself recognised as weighted in favour of the consumer and the circulation of goods and services, with a lot less emphasis on the production of content and cultural and creative products, including those of both independent producers and European public broadcasters. Thanks to this dialogue – added Ms Silvia Costa – we can say with satisfaction that there is now more awareness as to what the task of the European digital strategy is, to create a legislative, industrial and technological framework that will make the European audiovisual system fair, transparent, legal and competitive to the rest of the world and protect copyright (which, in this instance, also encompasses moral rights and the integrity of the work) and balances these aspects with the widening of access to culture of the digital citizen”.
After speeches from Nicola Borrelli, who vouched for the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism’s commitment to engaging in dialogue with the European Commission to adjust its choices, and David Puttnam, who implored those present to do everything within their power to persuade the European Commission to look at the entire process and not just at the single need to facilitate access to content, Marco Chimenz in his capacity as President of the EPC, led a round table discussion which looked more closely at individual elements of the EU’s strategic proposal, such as geoblocking, cross-border portability and the passive sale of rights to audiovisual works.
The participants included Gina Nieri from Mediaset, Tinni Andreatta from Rai Fiction, and Riccardo Tozzi, as well as international operators and, representing the European Commission, Anna Herold, a member of Commissioner Oettinger’s team, who reassured those present, stating that dialogue with the European institutions is already underway, and that it would perhaps be useful to shift the focus onto how the Digital Single Market can create new opportunities for the entire audiovisual sector and fight piracy at its roots, blaming not access by the consumer, but those profiting from it.
"When we talk about harmonising Europe and the Digital Single Market we have to tackle the issue of the interoperability of platforms straight away”. This was the closing remark of the conference by Italian undersecretary for telecommunications Antonello Giacomelli.
"We need a serious overhaul of the media directive and for rights to be given national value, - added Giacomelli – but the Italian audiovisual industry is certainly not living up to its full potential for international expansion. The new Rai that we have in mind must serve as the linchpin of the audiovisual sector and Italian creativity”.
(Translated from Italian)