Upwards of Euros500m of new loans will be made available to Europe's audiovisual industries under a new scheme launched Tuesday (Dec 19) by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

"This financial package is intended to improve the competitivity of the industry and to favour the development of European audiovisual content," said Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for culture and education, at a press conference in Luxembourg.

The scheme, baptised "i2i audiovisual", will tap into the Euros1bn of extra funding granted to the EIB after the Lisbon summit meeting in March. It was the initiative of Reding and her Christian Democrat political ally Philippe Maystadt, president of the EIB (ScreenDaily, Nov 15; Nov 30).

Detailing the proposals, Reding and Maystadt said that financial support will be available in four different categories:

  • The provision by the EIB of credit lines (or "global loans") to the banking sector specialised in audiovisual media for the funding of small firms working in the field of audiovisual creation and technology, and firms doing subcontracting work in this sector. Some of these global loans may supplement public subsidies to the creation of films and television programmes, whereas others should include a risk sharing element and benefit from guarantee structures supported mainly by the EIB's funding arm, EIF.
  • The medium- and long-term financing by the EIB, in cooperation with the banking sector, of large public and private television groups and of audiovisual production or distribution groups for their infrastructure investments (studios, digital installations, broadcasting stations, etc.) and for their creative work (production of "bouquets" of films, distribution of works or catalogues). This action, which could, in appropriate cases, take the form of structured funds with terms of repayment partly linked to the success of the beneficiary projects, is designed to offset certain industrial weaknesses in this sector in the context of global competition and to create activities which will give a fillip to many small and medium enterprises that do subcontracting work for these groups.
  • The funding of risk capital funds specialised in audiovisual media, through EIF participation. As a fund of funds, the EIF will thus become involved in a very specialised sector in which the lack of financial resources and of pan-European operators prevents the emergence of an effective risk capital market.
  • Joint actions by the EIB Group and the European Commission to promote cultural creation and the development of a film and television industry designed to ensure better complementarity between the group's banking resources and EC subsidies under the Media Plus programme, which has a budget of Euros400m over five years.
  • In a statement the EC said: "estimates, based on the first operations currently under evaluation, suggest that the initial volume of EIB Group funding should be in excess of half a billion Euros."

    The first venture capital pool, a Finnish operation entitled "Venture capital for creative industries", was today signed by the EIB's funding arm, EIF, in the presence of Maystadt and Reding.