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  • Multiannual Community programme to stimulate the development of a European multimedia content industry and to encourage the use of multimedia content in the emerging information society (INFO2000), 1996-1999

Previous programme


Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 65 million

Official Journal Reference

L 129 of 1996-05-30

Legislative Reference

96/339/EC of 1996-05-20
To stimulate demand for, and use of, multimedia content; to create favourable conditions for the development of the European multimedia content industry; and to contribute to the professional, social and cultural development of the citizens of Europe.


The INFO2000 programme focuses, in the European context, on the transition from print to electronic publishing and on the interactive multimedia information services that are rapidly emerging.

It is proposed in recognition of the need for political action at the European level to support Europe's transition to the Information Society, as articulated in the Commission White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment, the recommendations contained in the Bangemann Report on "Europe and the Global Information Society", in the conclusions of both the Corfu and Essen Summits, and in the Commission's action plan concerning "Europe's Way to the Information Society". The programme also takes account of the progress made at the G7 Ministerial Meeting devoted to the Information Society, which was hosted by the Commission in Brussels in February 1995.

INFO2000 is targeted at both users and suppliers in primarily content-related activities in the information value chain. The term "content" is used in the programme to refer to data, text, sound, images or multimedia combinations thereof, which are represented in analogue or digital format on a variety of carriers such as paper, microfilm, magnetic or optical storage. The "content industry", on the other hand, is involved in the creation, development and packaging/distribution of content-based products and services.

In this context, activities under INFO2000 will address the following:

- Source material creation of images, text, graphics, music, sound;
- Content development for databases, electronic book titles, CD-ROM/CD-I titles, game titles, and interactive TV programmes;
- Content packaging, producing information services such as on-line databases, videotex-, audiotex- and fax-based services, books, newspapers, magazines, interactive TV services, electronic books, CD-ROM/CD-I information and infotainment products, etc.;
- Content distribution, exploiting delivery channels such as optical and magnetic media, cable, satellite, and telephone networks, mobile networks, and paper;
- End-users, such as large and small businesses, public sector administrations, professionals, researchers, the education and training sector, consumers and citizens. Particular attention will also be given to those end-users who will see their roles evolving into suppliers of information services, as part of the move towards electronic markets and communities.

Actions under the programme follow a dual approach aimed at, in the first instance, building on the basic strengths of Europe's content industry and, in the second, addressing some of the weaknesses of both the content industry and market in Europe. In this respect, INFO2000 complements and reinforces other Community activities and initiatives focused on stimulating the emerging multimedia content industry in Europe, notably those concerning:

- The liberalization of telecommunications networks and services by 1 January 1998, which will facilitate the distribution of content and lead to a reduction in distribution costs;
- A clear and stable regulatory framework, particularly in relation to intellectual property rights and privacy protection;
- Research and Technological Development (RTD) on applications of public interest, particularly the specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programmes in the fields of Telematic Applications, Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS) and Information Technologies (ESPRIT);
- Community programmes addressing the cultural (RAPHAEL), SME (the Integrated Programme in favour of SMEs in the Craft sector) and education and vocational training (SOCRATES and LEONARDO DA VINCI) domains.

INFO2000 does not address those specific issues related to the audiovisual industry which are the subject of other targeted policy measures, notably the Action plan for the introduction of advanced television services in Europe, the MEDIA programmes and the "Television Without Frontiers' Directive".


Three action lines and support measures:

- Stimulating demand and raising awareness:
. Creating new markets by raising awareness at the European level with specific user groups;
. Encouraging clusters of pan-European users;

- Exploiting Europe's public sector information:
. Developing policies to access and exploit European public sector information;
. Linking directories of European public sector information;
. Making use of content resources in the public sector;

- Triggering European multimedia potential:
. Catalysing high-quality European multimedia content;
. Trading multimedia intellectual property rights;
. Developing and exchanging best business practice;

- Support actions:
. Observing and analysing the multimedia content;
. Spreading the use of multimedia content standards;
. Encouraging skills development at European level;
. Developing and exchanging best practice.


The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, assisted by a committee of an advisory nature composed of the representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission. In consultation with the advisory committee and other experts, a work programme will be drawn up by the Commission. This will be circulated to trade associations and other interested bodies.

The indicative breakdown of the programme budget is as follows: Stimulating demand and raising awareness: 22-32%; Exploiting Europe's public sector information: 18-23%; Triggering European multimedia potential: 45-57%; Support actions: 3-8%. This breakdown does not exclude the possibility that a project could relate to several activities.

These actions are to be mainly implemented through indirect actions and, wherever possible, on a shared-cost basis. The Community's financial contribution for shared-cost projects does not normally exceed 50% of the cost of the project, with progressively lower financial participation the nearer the project is to the market place.

For the most part, the selection of shared-cost projects is based on the usual procedure of calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The main criterion for supporting projects under the calls is their potential contribution to achieving the objectives of the programme. Implementation procedures will accommodate the interests of all kinds of market operators and facilitate their participation in the programme.

A more flexible funding scheme, outside the framework of calls for proposals, may be implemented by the Commission in order to provide incentives for the creation of partnerships, in particular involving SMEs and organizations in less favoured regions, or for other exploratory activities in different segments of the multimedia content market. If deemed useful, this scheme might be operated on a permanent basis.

Additional incentives aimed at encouraging the participation of SMEs and organizations from less favoured regions, in all aspects of the programme, are also included.

In exceptional cases, the Commission may consider unsolicited project proposals which involve a particularly promising and significant multimedia market development, a highly innovative approach or an exceptional technology or methodology, and which cannot be submitted within the normal call for proposals procedure.

Projects fully financed by the Commission within the framework of study and services contracts are to be implemented through calls for tenders in accordance with the Commission's Financial Regulations. The Commission will also undertake various preparatory, accompanying and support activities designed to achieve the general objectives of the programme and the specific aims of each action line. Such activities may include:

- Studies and consultancy in support of the programme;
- Preliminary actions in preparation of future activities;
- Measures aimed at facilitating participation in the programme as well as facilitating access to the results produced under the programme;
- Publications and activities for the dissemination, promotion and exploitation of results;
- Analysis of possible socio-economic consequences associated with the programme;
- Support activities such as observation and analysis of the multimedia content market, spreading the use of multimedia content standards, and encouraging skills development at European level.

Participation in the programme may be open, normally without financial support by the Community, to legal entities established in third countries and to international organizations, providing such participation contributes effectively to the implementation of the programme and taking into account the principle of mutual benefit. In exceptional circumstances, participation by international organizations may be financed on the same basis as that of legal entities established in the European Union.

In order to ensure that activities supported under INFO2000 complement developments in the global context, specific attention is to be paid to link initiatives under the programme to the 11 projects recently launched in the framework of the G7 Ministerial Meeting on the Information Society and to the relevant activities of international organizations, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Council of Europe.

Two evaluation reports on the implementation of the actions under the programme will be drawn up by an independent group of experts half way through the programme and upon its completion. Following an examination by the advisory committee, the Commission will submit both reports to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. On the basis of these reports, the Commission may present proposals for adjusting the orientation of the programme.
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