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EDITORIAL Alexandra Lebret, Managing Director of EPC

'Alta's demise is a red alert'

- The director general of the European Producers Club (EPC) sounds an alarm following the announcement of the closure of the Spanish company Alta Films.

'Alta's demise is a red alert'

We, as European producers, united as the European Producers Club, would like to make our regret known with regards to the flagship of one of the key European players.

The fall of Alta films, the flagship of European Film distribution in Spain (see news), is a very worrying sign that our cultural industries are in great danger. We cannot just turn a blind eye, as it is symptomatic of a grave crisis threatening our cultural industries.

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Essentially, there are three factors that killed Alta:

1. The absolute lack of effective piracy controls – a political decision, that not only drives the public away from cinemas but devalues the cinema product and sends the public the message that cinema is essentially worthless.

2. The raise of VAT tax of BO tickets to 21% in Spain, the highest in Europe. This is also a myopic political decision, as taxes raised will in no way compensate for the demise of European distributors and the cinema industry.

3. Public Spanish TV, TVE, a channel with no advertising and considered a public service, is still investing 80 million euro per year in US productions of no cultural value, while their investment in European cinema is less than half of this. In addition, they keep programming US products, many titles bought under packaged deals in prime time, while relegating European cinema to marginal hours. This is again a politically driven decision, as TVE is government owned and cannot justify this programming, as it has no advertising and therefore needs no market share to support ad revenues but on the contrary is fully financed by the Government and therefore by citizens taxes.

In addition the unreasonable competition by the American majors in huge advertisement investments, makes European films not able to properly compete. The heavy marketing campaigns of the majors makes competing impossible, as the majors have the possibility of charging a box-office based formula for TV rights and therefore are able to invest much more. European films do not have such formulas for TV rights.

I think the fall of Alta Films is a ‘red flag’ that should make us focus on the very serious trends that can kill our cultural industry.

A lack of policies on those three fronts are extremely risky for us and for European culture, and we must protest.

Alta's demise is a red alert that we simply cannot afford to ignore.

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