European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has denied that he has been behind plans to reduce or completely cut the MEDIA Programme after its current cycle comes to an end in December 2013.

During a walkabout at Logomo, the main venue of Capital of Culture activities in Finland’s Turku at the weekend, Barroso reacted to growing concerns within the European film community about the future of the MEDIA Programme after 2013 by stating that “the field of culture is a very important one, also in the economy. Since we speaking about it, let me mention for instance the programme MEDIA regarding European cinema. There were some reports saying that the European Commission has the intention to reduce it which are completely inaccurate.”

“On the contrary, if you think about something about this programme it is to reinforce it - at least this is what we are going to propose it,” he declared. “It [the MEDIA Programme] has been giving a great contribution to European cinema now for 20 years with € 1.7bn of investment in European cinema and thanks to that programme, many exchanges were organised and many translations were possible, so the distribution of European movies was possible in other parts of Europe and other parts of the world. This is a concrete example of where the European Union can help what has been done at national or sometimes regional or local level.”

Barroso’s public statement comes just ten days before the Public Hearing to discuss the future of the MEDIA Programme with 450 professionals from across Europe in Brussels on March 18.

The day-long event will include keynote speeches and panel discussions focucing on how the audiovisual industry will look after 2013 and how MEDIA can best respond to current and future challenges.