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European Commission - Fact Sheet

25 years of the MEDIA programme

Brussels, 13 May 2016

Since it was launched in 1991, the EU MEDIA programme has invested over €2.4 billion in European creativity and cultural diversity. It has supported the development of thousands of films in Europe and their international distribution.

When was the MEDIA programme launched and what is the idea behind it?

The MEDIA programme (abbreviation from French: Mesures pour l'encouragement et le développement de l'industrie audiovisuelle) was launched in 1991. Its aim is to increase the circulation of European films, TV and video productions across borders as well as to safeguard cultural diversity in Europe. It also aims to improve the environment for European audiovisual productions by strengthening national industries through the distribution of their productions across the European market and by fostering cooperation between them. Today MEDIA is part of the EU's Creative Europe programme.

The MEDIA programme kicked off in 1991 and coincided with the implementation of the Television without frontiers Directive. It built on ajoint declaration on Audiovisual Eureka,adopted by the representatives of 26 European states and the President of the European Commission in Paris on 2 October 1989. The original budget was 310 million ECU. Today more than half (56%) of the €1.46 billion Creative Europe programme budget (2014-2020) is dedicated to its MEDIA sub-programme.

How does the MEDIA programme help the audiovisual industry?

The EU invests at an early stage of the development process, when authors are developing concepts and writing scripts. The MEDIA programme also encourages co-productions: co-produced films have 2-3 times higher circulation potential as they are created and designed to appeal to several audiences. Some schemes in MEDIA are highly selective, and this provides a quality label that helps to raise the profile of audiovisual works, along with the financial support.

The MEDIA programme has also helped train more than 20,000 producers, directors, and screenwriters and enabled them to adapt to new technologies.

Another area that the MEDIA programme covers is the access to content. This includes tools for distribution, support to sales agents/distributors and support to cinemas. Most of MEDIA programme funding (44%) is allocated to non-national distribution and online distribution. MEDIA helps distributors to screen foreign films and provide funding for marketing, printing and advertising, subtitling and dubbing, etc. MEDIA also supports Europa Cinemas, a network of 962 cinemas across Europe that are committed to screening European works. For every €1 invested in the Europa Cinemas network, an estimated €13 is generated through additional audience for the audiovisual sector.

Finally, the EU supports audience development to stimulate interest in European audiovisual works, in particular through promotion, film literacy and festivals.

This work is supported nationally by a network of Creative Europe Desks throughout the Member States and other countries which participate in the MEDIA programme, with 79 offices to support potential applicants to MEDIA and promote the programme locally.

Which films, for example, has the MEDIA programme supported since 1991?

Since its launch, MEDIA has co-financed some of the jewels of the European cinema. MEDIA has helped promising films to scale up and achieve international recognition. MEDIA-funded films such as La Grande Bellezza, Slumdog Millionaire and Goodbye Lenin have received critical acclaim at festivals and award ceremonies from the Festival de Cannes to the Academy Awards (Oscars).

Since 1991, 40 MEDIA-supported films have been awarded the Palme d'Or, the Grand Prix or the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. This year in Cannes, 10* out of 21 films in the Official competition alone are supported by MEDIA.

MEDIA-supported films have also been recognised beyond Europe. The last four Best Foreign Language Film Oscars were awarded to European films supported by MEDIA: Amour, La Grande Bellezza, Ida, Son of Saul. In 2016, 11 MEDIA-supported films received 18 Oscar nominations. These films are: Son of Saul – which also won the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the Golden Globes Awards, Carol, Youth, Brooklyn, 45 Years, Mustang, Krigen, The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, The Look of Silence, Room, Amy and Shaun the Sheep – The Movie.

What is the European Film Forum at the Cannes Film Festival?

At this year's Cannes Film Festival, the Commission will organise, as part of the European Film Forum, a public conference on 'Financing European works in the digital age' and a workshop co-hosted with European Film Agency Directors on 'How to foster online distribution of European works across the EU' (more information).

The European Film Forum (EFF) represents a platform for structured dialogue between policy makers and stakeholders in the audiovisual sectors. It was launched by the Commission in its 2014 Communication on European Film in the digital era. Its aim is to develop a strategic policy agenda opening up new perspectives to address the challenges and opportunities of the digital revolution. The EFF is designed to lead, by the end of 2017, to concrete adaptations of European funding systems and clear recommendations for Member States and the industry.

Why are subtitling and dubbing important? How much EU funding is dedicated to them?

According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, 62% of Europeans only watch films or series that have either audio or subtitles in their country's language(s). Subtitling and dubbing represent a major challenge for the circulation of audiovisual works within Europe. It is, with promotion, one of the major costs covered by the MEDIA programme for supporting the cross border distribution of European films. In 2014, MEDIA spent around €4 million on subtitling and dubbing, helping some 500 films to reach new audiences. The Commission has recently increased this support (around 4.3 million for 2015). It has also launched, with the support of the European Parliament, two new projects, amounting to €4.5 million, to help with subtitles (innovative solutions for subtitles, including crowdsourcing and new subtitled versions for TV programmes).

What is the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility and will it do?

MEDIA will also support access to finance for audiovisual companies through the new Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility to be launched in June 2016.

Between 2014 and 2020, the Creative Europe programme has earmarked €121 million for a mechanism acting as insurance to financial intermediaries which offer financing for cultural and creative initiatives. This is because access to finance can be difficult for the cultural and creative sectors. Reasons are for example the intangible nature of their assets and collaterals, the limited size of the market, the uncertainty of demand, and the lack of training – on the part of financial intermediaries – to address the sectors’ specificities. Estimates suggest that, without taking action, the financing gap in the sector for 2014-2020 could amount to €1.1-€1.9 billion per year. A lack of collateral alone may prevent from 280,000 to 476,000 SMEs in the sector from obtaining financial intermediary loans.

The Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility will have the potential to leverage €600 million in loans and other financial products for SMEs and micro, small and medium sized organisations in the cultural and creative sectors. The guarantee scheme will be managed by the European Investment Fund, on behalf of the Commission.

What is the Commission doing to ensure wider access to content across the EU?

In December 2015, the Commission proposed new rules on cross-border portability as part of the Digital Single Market strategy. The aim is to make sure that Europeans who buy or subscribe to films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books and games at home are able to access them when they travel in other EU countries.

Also in December, the Commission gave details of upcoming measures which will further improve cross-border access to creative content. These will include:

  • Enhancing cross-border distribution of television and radio programmes online;
  • Supporting rights holders and distributors to reach agreement on licences that allow for cross-border access to content and on cross-border requests by interested users from other Member States. In this context, the role of mediation, or similar alternative dispute resolution mechanisms can be considered;
  • Facilitating the digitalisation of out-of-commerce works and making them available online, including across the EU.

Using its Creative Europe programmeand other policy instruments, the Commission will also:

  • Further promote tools to bring more European works into the single market, including the creation of ready-to-offer catalogues of European films in order to help them reach online distributors, the development of licensing hubs to facilitate the licensing of works that are not yet available in a given Member State, and a larger use of standard identifiers of works. The use of common identifiers will help find rights holders more easily and facilitate licensing;
  • Support the development of a European aggregator of online search tools which will be offered to internet users (i.e. an online indexation of available legal offers), as well as promote more efficient public funding to develop subtitling and dubbing;
  • Intensify its dialogue with the audiovisual sector to promote legal offers and the discoverability and findability of films (in its future partnership with national film funds), to find ways for a more sustained use of existing European films (with the help of the European Film Forum), and to explore alternative models of financing, production and distribution in the animation sector that are scalable at European level (in a structured industry cooperation forum).

How will the upcoming revision of the Audiovisual and Media Services Directive (AVMSD) impact European audiovisual works?

As part of its Digital Single Market strategy, the Commission is updating EU audiovisual media rules to make them fit for the 21st century. A proposal will be presented in the coming weeks. The proposal will notably strengthen the promotion of European works' obligations for on-demand services. While TV broadcasters invest around 20% of their turnover in European content, this figure represents less than 1% for on-demand providers. The proposal therefore will aim at encouraging new investment in European works. Europeans will have access to a broader offer of European works in catalogues and this measure will contribute to cultural diversity and more opportunities for creators in Europe.

* [Updated: 13/05/2016 17:00]



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