MEDIA unit head Aviva Silver speaks about programme’s future, cinema digitization pilot project launched with €2m in 2011

In unison with industry professionals, the MEDIA Programme will be fighting the case for continuing support to the European audiovisual industry in the forthcoming debate about the European Union’s future finances.

Speaking to a packed MEDIA Day in Berlin on Monday, Aviva Silver, Head of MEDIA Unit at the European Commission, declared: “All I can say is that we are working on a new [MEDIA] programme.

“We will make the case for the industry which is growing and has new exciting talents appearing,” she continued. .

She said that the response to last autumn’s online consultation on the future of the MEDIA Programme had been unprecedented with around 2,600 online contributions sent by professionals from all over Europe.

“We are trying our very best to turn this into a new programme which will meet the needs [expressed in the contributions]”, Silver noted.

She took the opportunity of the forum in Berlin to announce plans for three major meetings in the coming months to discuss the MEDIA Programme’s future.

There will be a general hearing held in Brussels on March 18 for 450 participants. “We are going to see whether this meeting can be streamed on the Internet for those people who can’t come to Brussels,” Silver explained.

A second meeting dedicated to the future strategy for the training sector will then be staged on March 21-22 also in Brussels, with a third meeting on the future of MEDIA lined up for May 16 during the Cannes Film Festival.

Turning to the future financial perspectives of the European Union, Silver agreed that there was “a lot of concern about the future”, but stressed that “it is important to note that we are in a time of financial crisis.”

She explained that the European Union is currently preparing its new multi-annual financial plan for 2014-2020 and would be “looking at which programmes will be included and how this framework will be structured. All the programmes will have to show European added value.”

She said that it would be “important to communicate the positive aspects of a programme at all levels to the politicians - both nationally, regionally and on a European level” and added that the professionals’ lobbying should  also target their respective ministries of finance about the importance of the sector

Meanwhile, Costas Daskalakis, Head of the MEDIA Unit EACEA (Education, Audiovisual & Culture Agency) unveiled plans for the last scheme now to be introduced under the existing MEDIA 2007 programme.  A cinema digitization pilot project is to be launched this year with a budget of €2m.

“There was the question which cinemas we should target and we decided that we should help those screens which could be left out of existing national or regional programmes in the member states,” Daskalakis explained.

He envisages a flat payment of € 20,000 per screen to be allocated on the basis of the cinema’s performance in previous years “This would enable us to support the digitisation of up to 100 screens in this pilot phase,” he continued. “We hope to present the guidelines for the pilot project to the April session of the MEDIA Committee.”

“What is important for us are the security requirements which should be as tough as DCI,” Daskalakis stressed.”The quality of projection should be appropriate, but not necessarily the highest. We don’t think it is our business to specify the quality of the projection. That is for the cinemas.”