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Yvon Thiec • General delegate of Eurocinema

MEDIA 2007: Strasbourg in favour of enhancing support for European film

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Yvon Thiec • General delegate of Eurocinema

On the one hand, a striking imbalance in terms of offer —with seven American productions for three European films. On the other hand, a fastly developing sector, with an estimated growth rate of 5.4% for the coming years up to a market volume of 351 billion euros in 2008.

These contrasted statistics concerning the European audiovisual sector are at the core of the report on the new MEDIA 2007 presented by Ruth Hieronymi (PPE-DE) before the European Parliament and approved by a large majority during the plenary meeting which took place in Strasbourg on the 25th of October. This vote indicates that the European MPs are in favour of reinforcing communitary support to European cinema by increasing the budget up to 1055 million euros for the period 2007-2013 —a step ahead meant to counteract the 'chronic capital-shortage' which affects the sector. Cineuropa met Yvon Thiec, General delegate of Eurocinema, who commented on the report and on the future of MEDIA.

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Cineuropa: What comes out of the report presented by European MP Hieronymi?
Yvon Thiec: As the report reveals, the 1055-million budget allocated to MEDIA 2007 is "the least we can spend to comply with the goals set in the programme" which include, according to the text which has just been approved in Strasbourg, promoting the cultural diversity which is part of our cinematic heritage, improving distribution, and above all enhancing the competitivity of the European audiovisual industry. The text also introduces new goals, such as extending the programme to member-states-to-be (Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey), to the West of the Balkans and to countries in our vicinity. Subsidies, which in principle should not exceed 50% of the total budget of the supported projects, will be granted by the Commission after consulting a specially-appointed committee. All MEDIA Desks will keep informing their respective countries.

What were the results of the previous MEDIA programmes?
The results achieved so far by MEDIA (1996-2000) and MEDIA Plus (2001-2006) confirm our estimations for the future. As Mrs. Hieronymi underlined, nearly 90% of the non-national European movies produced in the past few years have received European money. MEDIA Plus worked well: for each euro brought by the community, 5.75 euros were invested in the industry, 2.38 in training, 7.2 in distribution, and 4.19 in development.

What other themes does the report deal with?
The other big issue is the fact that the sector suffers from the linguistic disparities. As a consequence of this fragmentation, audiovisual products do not circulate well in all member-states and there are too many small companies which have a hard time coping with the financial challenges of the global market. In this context, the report suggests the institutions should endeavour to level things out, for instance by easing the access to credit —a possibility which almost no country offer, except for France.

What is your opinion on the work of the European Commission?
The changes brought by MEDIA 2007 are definitely a first step towards the definition of a coherent legal frame for the European cinema of tomorrow. The directive 'Television without borders' which is currently being negotiated (the revised draft should be presented in December) and the 'Convention on the diversity of cultural contents and artistic works' signed in Paris on the 20th of October are real touchstones for the elaboration of a legal frame which will take into account not only the double nature (cultural and economic) of audiovisual activities, but also the technological changes (digital technology and the internet).

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