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Brussels, 27 January 2005

New EU Programme to Promote European Digital Content Market: Commissioner Reding Welcomes Positive Vote in Parliament

The European Parliament today voted with only one amendment in favour of the eContentplus programme, which will support the development of multi-lingual content for innovative, on-line services across the EU. The amendment, which is the result of a compromise with the Council, sets the budget of the programme at 149 MEUR for the period 2005-2008, and paves the way for a rapid adoption of the programme. eContentplus will tackle the fragmentation of the European digital content market and will improve the accessibility and usability of geographical information, cultural content and educational material.

“The Internet offers a unique opportunity for content companies to outgrow their so far mostly national markets”, comments Commissioner Reding, responsible for Information Society and Media. “The eContentplus programme will facilitate the production and distribution of online European content, thus stimulating innovation and creativity. At the same time it will help to preserve and share Europe’s cultural and linguistic identities and give them a more prominent place on the Internet. Today’s vote in Parliament allows reaching a budget which is substantially increased in comparison to the predecessor programme”.

The new programme will concentrate on those parts of the digital content market where there is clear fragmentation in Europe, and where market forces alone so far have been insufficient to drive growth. It targets three domains: spatial (or geographical) data, educational material and cultural content.

To take the example of geographical data (such as geographical coordinates, post codes, as well as maps, planning and land registration details): Fragmentation arises because different Member States collect and store data in different ways. By tackling the fragmentation, the programme will facilitate the creation of EU-wide information services derived from such data in areas such as transportation, navigation, emergency response and environmental management.

The eContentplus programme is part of a broader set of measures to improve the conditions for innovation and creativity in the converging content market, including the MEDIAplus programme, and the modernisation of the Television Without Frontiers Directive, due later this year.

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