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Brussels, 23 November 2000

Culture Council adopts Media Plus aid programme for the European audiovisual industry

The Council, meeting this morning in Brussels, reached an agreement on the Media Plus programme (2001-2005) with a budget of € 400 million, as proposed by the Commission. One part of this programme covers continuing training for audiovisual professionals (adaptation to digital technology, sales techniques, training in scriptwriting, etc.), which will receive € 50 million, while the other part relates to development, distribution and promotion, which has been allocated € 350 million. The Media 2 budget (1996-2000) was € 310 million.

The three Member States that wanted a smaller budget (the UK, the Netherlands, Germany) finally accepted the € 400 million budget. The "training" part has still to be adopted by the Parliament (codecision) at the second reading before it can be finally adopted by the Council. The "development" part (simple consultation and unanimity) can be adopted as an "A" point at a future Council meeting.

The ministers agreed on an indicative allocation of the budget for the "development" part: at least 20 % for development, at least 57.5 % for distribution, 8.5 % for promotion, 5 % for pilot projects (new feature of Media Plus compared to Media 2 and intended, in particular, to ease the transition to digital technology) and at least 9 % for horizontal costs (in particular the Media desks in the Member States).

Commissioner Reding expressed her satisfaction with the Council's decision to adopt the Commission's proposal. "This gives a strong signal to audiovisual professionals that the EU is resolved to support the European film industry and increase its competitiveness, whilst digital has a huge growth and job-creation potential". At the meeting, she reaffirmed the Commission's intention to manage Media Plus completely transparently and insisted that sufficient resources should be given to the Media desks, the keystone of the system, which are responsible for informing and supporting professionals wishing to take part in the programme. Thanks to Media, the percentage of European films distributed outside their country of origin increased from less than 14 % in 1996 to more than 22 % in 1999, and more than 60 % of European films distributed in countries other than their country of production are supported by Media.

Ms Reding also told the ministers that the Commission is about to conclude its discussions with the European Investment Bank on mobilising instruments such as loans, guarantees or support for venture capital funds for audiovisual purposes.

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