Brussels, 3 May 2005
Improving and extending the use of ICT to
make the most of Europe’s cultural and audiovisual
The European Commission today announced that it is to boost its policy
of preserving and exploiting Europe's written and audiovisual heritage. At a
time when the internet and the digital technologies available on many technical
platforms are an everyday part of the life of European citizens, tapping the
potential of our written text, image and sound archives is of major importance
in economic terms as much as in cultural terms. The Commission plans to issue a
communication by July outlining the stakes involved and identifying the
obstacles to using written and audiovisual archives in the European Union. The
communication will be accompanied by a proposal for a Recommendation aimed at
enlisting all the public players concerned and facilitating public-private
partnerships in the task of digitising our heritage.
“Our libraries, our films, our historic television and sound records
not only need to be preserved; we also need to make better use of them in the
fields of culture, education, information and research. The message addressed to
the Presidency of the European Union and the Commission by six EU heads of State
and government is a positive sign of increased awareness of the need to bolster
our policy in this field,” commented Information Society and Media
Commissioner Viviane Reding, adding that “digitising this heritage is also
a marvellous opportunity which our industry should grasp.”
Action already completed, in progress or planned ranges from developing
search engines to formulating common standards and helping to digitise content.
The communication and the Recommendation announced by the Commissioner will
provide a framework and supportive context for this action.
Action to be continued and expanded
- Developing techniques for standardisation and search methods geared towards
exploiting written and audiovisual archives in the digital environment. Since
2001, the European IST programme of research in the field of ICT has supported
the exchange of good practice, definition of benchmarks and dialogue between the
players concerned (the MINERVA, MINERVA Plus and DIGICULT Forum projects) and
has launched a process to identify standards and tests for reciprocal access
between public libraries (the European Library (TEL) project, currently managed
by the Dutch National Library, with access to 90 collections).
- For audiovisual archives, the PRESTO and PRESTOSPACE actions (allocated
€9 million), funded by the IST programme, support the development of fast,
high-quality techniques to digitise television archives, while the European
Union’s MEDIA programme supports the establishment of film catalogues in
digital format. Promoting the use of digital technologies by the European
audiovisual industry will be one of the priorities of MEDIA 2007, for which the
Commission is requesting a budget of €1.055 billion for 2007-2013.
- A Recommendation (currently being adopted) on film heritage, promoting in
particular the standardisation of film catalogues and the interoperability of
audiovisual archive databases.
- €36 million will be earmarked for research projects in this area
– including the development of search engines for the general public
– at the next call for proposals under the Community’s information
society technologies research programme (IST programme), which will be published
in May, and the Commission wishes to see the budget for this sector increased
further in the 7th RTD Framework Programme, as of 2007.
- €60 million will go to digitisation of and access to content within
the eContent Plus programme for the period 2005-2008, (next call end of June
2005) which will support action to network archives in