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Europa Distribution 6th annual conference

The debate over Creative Europe was a key issue at the Europa Distribution annual conference in Lyon, which brought together 65 distributors and 20 speakers

Europa Distribution 6th annual conference

"We are lobbying a lot for it but we don‘t know at this point in which direction it is going and how much support we will have. It is an uncomfortable time as unless you get the budget, you cannot really propose anything," said Adeline Monzier, General Director of Europa Distribution. "We are really scared that they [the European Commission] are actually losing the core of the current programme, which is theatrical distribution and exhibition. We are a bit afraid that they are creating too many new schemes and that will dilute the money."

Besides the future of the MEDIA programme, the European distributors are also concerned about the new Cinema Communication and the Green Paper on the online distribution of audiovisualworks. "These are three hot topics," Monzier underlined. "The Green Paper on online distribution will have more impact on distributors than the Cinema Communication. The Green Paper was promoting multi-territorial licensing and there was no place left for national theatrical distributors. Now they have a report that is going in the right direction. On the Parliament's side, it is done, now it is back in the hands of the Commission."

At the conference in Lyon, Cumedia CEO and Europa Distribution policy advisor Ignasi Guardans gave an overview of the road map of Creative Europe. In December, the European Parliament will decide about the budget for the total programme and the parameters between culture and the other parts. Thereafter, it will be the Commission's job to distribute the funds into different projects and programmes. The Commission has already proposed an increase of €1.8m for MEDIA.

The list of measures which might be supported by the MEDIA strand of the Creative Europe programme includes training, development, co-productions, support for sales agents, theatrical distribution, branding, audience building measures as festivals and the creation of new business models. "For the first time the MEDIA programme is entering the pure support to production," said Guardans. "It remains to be seen what comes out of that. It is true that co-productions have a better possibility to be seen and to be released in different countries. This new production support might also complement the European funds outside the EU, such as Eurimages.

"It seems that MEDIA as part of the new Creative Europe programme is supporting now more and more policy discussions, roundtable, seminars, training, encounters and digital networking under its umbrella. If you mix that with the concept of co-production it means you have a huge potential for reinforcing through MEDIA. The network will allow co-production, more than the pure production in themselve. To succeed in co-production you need a certain degree of communication with all the potential partners, MEDIA would be supporting that line. Some money could eventually go to the production itself."

Creative Europe will also strengthen the European Investment Fund (EIF) which is designed as a guarantee fund to give loans in the scale of €200m. "The multiplier effect will be much higher with approximately more than 1,000 m euros," Guardans added. "After the Parliament received a first draft, the MEP Silvia Costa is going to file several admendments. The Parliament doesn't want to have a mixture of the culture and audiovisual industry."

The guarantee fund makes it easier for the audiovisual industry to receive loans from their local banks. The idea is to support all industry sections from the development to the exhibition sector. The European Investment Fund will actively support the knowledge base of the bankers with regards to the cultural industry. But some member states consider this as being too risky.

There is also a lot of insecurity with regard to the support for the distribution and exhibition. "It is not sure yet if there will be support for the digitisation of the cinemas," said Guardans. In Costa's report, it is also mentioned that the automatic distribution funding should not be forgotten in favor of the online distribution. According to John Dick, the EAC/EA Media Programme Distribution provides €20m for the automatic distribution support every year. Due to the success of the programme, this was apparently not sufficient.

"In 2012, we had the highest number of applications which resulted in a deficit of €4m," Dick said. In addition, MEDIA supported the selective distribution with €5.4m. "The question is if there will be two systems in the future“. states Dick. „Even if there will be a budget increase of €1.8bn there won‘t be more support for the theatrical distribution in the first year."

Further issues concern the MEDIA desks and even the logo. "The MEDIA desks were supposed to merge with the Cultural Contact Points," said Guardans. "Now it is up to each member state to decide if they want to keep them. But for sure there will be some synergies." The Commission also wanted to get rid of the MEDIA logo and replace it with the EU logo and 12 stars, but the Parliament wants to keep it. The Parliament and Commission must be very creative to get Creative Europe going - a good rebound for all industry members will be very helpful in this process.

Birgit Heidsiek

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