Many of Europe's filmagencies have released a joint statement to the European Commission inadvocating the growth of digital cinema in Europe.

The national film agenciessaid: 'The directors of Europe's national film agencies (the EFADs) considerthat digital cinema represents a major challenge for the whole of the Europeanfilm industry, especially in relation to the development of online services(VOD) and the digitisation of theatrical distribution and exhibition.

'Effective support measureswith a view to encouraging the digitisation and digital distribution of filmsare critical to the development of digital cinema exhibition and VOD platformsand are needed at both the national and the European level.

'At a time when theguidelines for the MEDIA 2007 programme are in preparation, the EFADs are atthe European Commission's disposal to discuss further possible new means ofsupport to stimulate the uptake of digital cinema in Europe.

'The European Film AgencyDirectors (EFADs) are committed to helping ensure European film fulfils itsimportant cultural and economic role in Europe and internationally. Theprerequisite for achieving this goal is the development and maintenance ofvibrant film sectors, sustained by national and European policies that supportthe production, distribution and exhibition of films, promote the diversity offilm in the respective countries while at the same time securing exchange andco-operation between EU-countries as well as between the EU and the world atlarge.

'While many technologicaland economic issues related to digital theatrical distribution and exhibitionare still in discussion, to ensure that European film in all its diversity ismade available to European audiences, it is vital that European cinema isfully prepared for the transition to digital.

'The EFADs therefore believethat it is absolutely necessary that the largest possible catalogue of new andclassic European films is available in the appropriate HD digital format forVOD, web and cable-based home video services, or in the DCI-compliant 2k to 4kdigital format for theatrical screening. With the American majors movingquickly into the VOD and digital cinema market, with large and compelling librariesof American titles, there is a real risk that European films lose out and neverreach a new and committed audience if European producers, distributors andexhibitors are unable to respond speedily to the digital challenge.'

The agencies involved werefrom Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany,Greece, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania,Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain Slovakia, Slovenia,Sweden and the UK.