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European call for the future of MEDIA Program

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by Sydney Levine
June 14, 2012 10:18 AM
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Media20

Europa Distribution, Europa International, Europa Cinemas, European organizations and L’ARP, last year initiated a movie-makers' petition to protect the MEDIA Programme's independence.  Together they represent an important European audiovisual and cinematographic chain.  They now want to support the multi-annual budget increase for the cultural and creative sectors proposed by Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou on November 23, 2011. They underline the importance of the MEDIA Programme within Creative Europe, and more specifically the necessity for distribution (local distributors and international sales agents) and exhibition to remain at the heart of the future MEDIA Programme.

The impressive achievements of the MEDIA Programme over the last 20 years, which has supported the creation of a strong European film industry with wide cultural influence in and outside Europe, show how important, efficient and tailored the MEDIA spending has been for the benefit of the European audiovisual sector. Of course, the future MEDIA Programme can be updated and reorganized. But it must not enter into new fields at the cost of potentially weakening what it has proven a great instrument for.

If the MEDIA Programme were to suffer budget cuts in the future or to lose its specificity, the diversity of choice -- and a diversity of offers -- on the market would be strongly reduced, correspondingly affecting the global growth of the market, competitiveness of European companies and employment. The lack of support to distribution could additionally reduce the circulation of European works by more than half and would probably result in the disappearance of European independent companies, which focus their activities on the distribution and exhibition of non-national European film. In a highly competitive audiovisual market, American companies would benefit the most from this disappearance.

"We certainly do believe that the future Media Programme needs to adapt to the new realities of the digital transition: digitization of European theatres, online distribution of audiovisual works. But we are concerned about the MEDIA Programme creating new schemes that would threaten the traditional support schemes for distribution (local distributors and international sales agents) and exhibition, which have proven over the years to be very successful schemes.

In this sense, we believe that the future MEDIA Programme should:

-          Take into account the specificity of the audiovisual and cinematographic sector: we are indeed concerned about the merging of the programmes under the Creative Europe umbrella. We understand the necessity for synergies but the specificities of the audiovisual sector, which combines industrial and cultural dimensions, have to be considered in order to meet the needs of film professionals.

-          Keep a strong focus on its traditional core, the distribution (local and international) and theatrical exhibition of European works and thus insure the continuity with the current programme: the main objective of the MEDIA programme is to promote the transnational circulation of audiovisual works and professionals, in Europe and beyond, by supporting the distribution of audiovisual works in theatres, as well as on other relevant platforms, including television, video-on-demand, online platforms and festivals. This objective shall remain the core of the future Programme to increase the successful impact of the current Programme on the distribution and circulation of European works in and outside Europe."

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