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Council discuss MEDIA programme and the audiovisual industry in Europe

A Seminar of Ministers of the Member States on Audiovisual Subjects took place within the Council of the European Communities on 4-5 October 1993.

During a debate on the Community's MEDIA programme, Commissioner Jose de Pinheiro presented the main themes of an evaluation of t...
A Seminar of Ministers of the Member States on Audiovisual Subjects took place within the Council of the European Communities on 4-5 October 1993.

During a debate on the Community's MEDIA programme, Commissioner Jose de Pinheiro presented the main themes of an evaluation of the programme undertaken by the Commission and carried out in consultation with an expert group, together with a programme audit undertaken by an independent body.

The evaluation judges the MEDIA programme to be an effective catalyst in the amelioration of competitivity in the European audiovisual industry. The Commission will shortly present a proposal aiming to guarantee the present level of MEDIA activities until 1995, and to provide better coordination of the different initiatives within the programme. The proposal also aims to concentrate efforts on important sectors such as the training of professionals, the development of market-oriented production projects, and the distribution of European audiovisual works in all forms (cinema, TV and video).

The Commission also intends to begin a wide-reaching consultation and analysis process with the objective of establishing future Community policy in the audiovisual field. This will open with the publication of a Green Paper on audiovisual topics to act as a basis for discussion involving all actors in the field.

A press conference followed the Seminar, at which the President of the Seminar, Mr. Elio Di Rupo, Minister of Education and Audiovisual Media for Belgium's French community, presented his conclusions. In particular, these covered general audiovisual topics and the European situation in relation to GATT, reflecting discussion in the Seminar and the contribution made by the Minister.

Noting that the audivisual media are the most powerful cultural instruments of this century, he stated that the Ministers at the Seminar were unanimous in their conviction that Europe must be in a position to support and develop both audiovisual creation and the audiovisual industry.

In the context of GATT, an exception of the audiovisual industry from GATT trade agreements on cultural grounds seemed most appropriate. This would permit the creation and implementation of policy targeted to preserve and promote European cultural identities at Community, national and regional levels. Without prejudice to considerations or agreements under debate during the current (Uruguay round) GATT negotiations, the President considered that it is indispensable to establish a number of minimum criteria for the support of the European audiovisual industry and the creation of audiovisual works.

These include: Exclusion of the "most favoured nation" clause from all programmes supporting the audiovisual sector; the further development of suitable public aid and loans, both at national and Community levels; continuation of the policy of regulation of existing and new technologies and methods of transmission of audiovisual works; assurance of the future liberty of the Community and Member States to develop any policies and measures likely to aid the audiovisual sector in all its aspects, notably in creation, production, diffusion, radio transmission, distribution and exploitation; and the exclusion of the audiovisual sector from the principle of progressive liberalization set out in the proposal for article XIX of the GATT agreement.

He further pointed out that the Community must maintain its established advantages: among the most important of these must be the effective implementation of the Directive "Television without Frontiers".

Commissioner Jose de Pinheiro, also addressing the press after the Seminar, underlined that the Minister's remarks were in no way protectionist, noting that in 1991, 77% of the exportation of USA audiovisual works was destined for Europe (60% for the Community), and that, in the same year, the USA share of the film market in European cinemas rose to 81%, while 54% of dramatic works transmitted by European television stations were also of USA origin.

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