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“It is essential for society as a whole to reject divisive rhetoric, promote human rights and create an inclusive environment”

Industry Report: Market Trends

Martina Dlabajová • Member of the European Parliament


The Czech MEP delves into her enthusiasm for the LUX Audience Award and her take on the prospects for the European media industry, amongst other topics

Martina Dlabajová • Member of the European Parliament

Martina Dlabajová has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2014. She is the Renew Europe Coordinator in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Co-chair of the SME Intergroup in the European Parliament and the Chair of the Renew Europe SME Taskforce. During her previous term, she initiated the Intergroup for Creative Industries and was appointed its vice-president.

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In her work, she focuses mainly on SMEs, family businesses, creative industries, digitalisation, and research and innovation. In 2020, she founded the project "It's OK to feel DOWN", where she interviews personalities from the creative industries in the Czech Republic to show that, with creative thinking, it is possible to overcome obstacles and follow one’s visions.

We chatted to her after she introduced a session at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, during which the European Commission’s Martin Dawson gave a presentation called “The European Media Industry Outlook: What Do Audiences Want?”, which gave participants the opportunity to learn about audience tastes and preferences in Europe, thereby helping them reach wider audiences across the continent.

Cineuropa: As a long-standing visitor to Karlovy Vary, could you share some of your impressions on this year’s edition?
Martina Dlabajová:
I am a loyal visitor to Karlovy Vary, not only to enjoy the fascinating films, but also to support and promote the LUX Audience Award. The 57th edition of Karlovy Vary was incredibly successful. The festival presented a remarkable selection of 185 films, including 116 fiction features, 28 documentaries and 41 short films. It was a platform for 36 world, 11 international and five European premieres. What I really appreciate about the festival is its strong emphasis on engaging with the audience. In addition to film screenings, the festival hosts panel discussions, workshops and master classes where participants can gain valuable insights into the filmmaking process.

The European Parliament’s recent LUX Audience Award celebrated Lucas Dhont's film Close [+see also:
film review
interview: Eden Dambrine
interview: Lukas Dhont
interview: Lukas Dhont
film profile
(see the news).
I have to say that I was completely amazed by the ceremony that took place in Brussels. The event saw the presence of four great directors and nearly 1,000 spectators, including MEPs and devoted film fans. That is great! But I was even more excited by the audience's interest in watching and rating films. The European Parliament organised more than 500 screenings in the member states and captured the hearts of 50,000 passionate film fans. I saw all five movies, and it was really hard to decide which one was the best this year. They were all interesting, and each had its own message. I am glad that the award was won by Close. It is a very fragile and deep story. It is a good thing this movie was made.

The screening of Close at the Sofia Pride Film Fest was disrupted by the pro-Russian Vazrazhdane party, who branded it as “paedophilia propaganda”. Could you comment on this incident?
The disruption of the screening and the subsequent threats made to the screening's organisers show that an immediate response is needed to address the intolerance and hostility faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Condemning such acts and protecting the rights of individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, is essential in both national and European responses. Incidents such as the disruption of the Sofia Pride Film Fest screening underscore the importance of ongoing efforts to combat prejudice, and promote acceptance and understanding. It is essential for society as a whole to reject divisive rhetoric, promote human rights, and create an inclusive environment where all individuals can live without fear of discrimination or violence.

What are your thoughts on the presentation by Martin Dawson, on “The European Media Industry Outlook”?
The presentation showed us some interesting trends in the European media environment. One notable finding is that cinema is losing ground to streaming platforms, which have seen rapid growth. Revenues in the audiovisual sector grew by 8% in 2021, with broadcast remaining stable, streaming seeing significant growth and theatrical revenues declining. Traditional TV remains the preferred medium for films and series, and is still a trusted source of information across the EU. The dominance of US content is evident, as it is the most attractive to EU consumers, followed by domestic programming and other European content. The major US streamers capture 71% of streaming subscriptions, underscoring their significant market share and influence in the industry. In this era of rich content, the competition for consumers' attention has intensified. Capturing and retaining the attention of users has become a challenge for media providers.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for legacy makers in today's European audiovisual landscape, and how do you think it should be approached?
The biggest challenge is adapting to the changing preferences of consumers caused by the rise of streaming platforms. To rise to this challenge, legacy makers should embrace digital transformation by investing in online streaming platforms, developing digital distribution strategies, and engaging with audiences across multiple devices and platforms. Another key approach is to focus on producing high-quality, original content that will stand out in the competitive streaming market. Working with streaming platforms instead of seeing them as competitors can also be beneficial, as it provides access to a wider audience and potential revenue streams through co-production or licensing agreements.

Legacy makers should leverage data-driven insights to understand audience preferences, and adapt their content offerings and marketing strategies accordingly. In addition, improving the user experience across all touchpoints, whether through cinemas, traditional television or digital platforms, is crucial to capture and retain audience attention. Embracing new technologies, such as virtual reality and interactive elements, can create immersive experiences that keep audiences engaged.

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