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ESC opinion on INFO2000

The Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) has adopted an opinion on the Commission proposal for the adoption of a multi-annual programme to stimulate the development of a European multimedia content industry and the use of multimedia content in the emerging Information Societ...
The Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) has adopted an opinion on the Commission proposal for the adoption of a multi-annual programme to stimulate the development of a European multimedia content industry and the use of multimedia content in the emerging Information Society (INFO2000).

The INFO2000 programme, which follows on from the IMPACT programme, is designed to encourage the development of new multimedia products. The programme will run from 1996 to 1999 and will be allocated a budget of ECU 100 million.

While the Committee fully supports the new programme's stated objectives and agrees with the main lines of its contents, it finds certain weaknesses in the proposal and considers that its overall direction is vague and its scope not fully defined. The Committee is aware of the difficulties in dealing with the information content question and of the potential risks in over-simplifying the problems involved. However, it considers that, in this case, the rules on transparency and efficacy of the proposed actions have not been fully applied. The Committee therefore urges the Commission to take account of the following points in its proposed programme:

- The need to view INFO2000 as an instrument for closer overall coordination, given the co-relation with other Community programmes in the information sector;
- Given the limited overall funding available for the first four-year period of the programme, the percentage distribution between the various action lines should be altered to trigger the greatest possible European potential;
- The number of possible projects should be reduced to a minimum, with priority for those which have a social nature, to prevent excessive dilution of resources and to ensure maximum efficiency and impact.

More generally, the Committee considers that the Commission underestimates the possible socio-economic consequences of excessive mass media concentration and of the inability to guarantee a plurality of information sources. In addition, the Committee is concerned that while the principles of liberalization, deregulation and competitiveness are supported by the Commission, the standards to be observed within the regulatory framework have not yet been established.
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