More than 350 individuals and organisations from the European Union (EU) and around the globe have participated in a public consultation on the next round of the MEDIA Mundus Programme after 2013.

According to the European Commission (EC), a total of 367 responses were collected for the MEDIA Mundus consultation between March 7 and May 29 this year, with 86% respondents coming from EU countries and the remaining 14% from third countries. The four countries most represented among the respondents were Germany (46), Spain (45), Belgium (39) and France (37), with Italy and the UK accounting for almost 30 submissions.

In addition, there were responses to the online consultation from afar afield as Equador, Cameroon, Singapore and New Zealand.

Producers were by far the largest represented category of respondents making up almost 100 of the submissions, or 27% of the total collected replies.

In a summary of the responses, the Commission pointed out that respondents agreed, in particular, on proposed action lines for “financial support to co-production funds” as well for “events and other activities intended to facilitate the sale of films or work in progress” and those “intended to facilitate the search for co-production partners.”

Despite the low percentage of cinema owners among the respondents, the proposed action line regarding international cinema networks screening a significant proportion of European films in the rest of the world and international films in Europe benefited from a large number of positive answers, especially from producers, distributors and associations.

Meanwhile, almost half of the respondents – 125 – added general comments and proposals at the end of the general questionnaire.

The UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), for example, called for synergies with other European support programmes, including MEDIA.

“In looking at any proposed new actions for MEDIA Mundus, the principle of complementarity with other EU support programmes, mainly MEDIA, but also ACP Films should be paramount. This leads to a much broader question about whether we need from 2014 onwards two programmes (i.e. MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus) or should all efforts be made to consolidate all strategic benefits in one international programme fit for the globalised and electronic 21st century,” the DCMS suggested.

At the same time, a Spanish respondent proposed argued that MEDIA Mundus should join forces with the EU’s FP7 programme on research and development to “promote R&D projects on new business models in the audiovisual sector, as the whole distribution chain has to undergo significant changes in the forthcoming years.”

The principle of reciprocity, which is obligatory for all project applications to MEDIA Mundus, raised the most comments. A respondent from Cyprus wrote that “the ‘joint submission’ of projects is a nice democratic rule that has little relevance to everyday economic life: usually, there is ‘somebody’ starting a project and, in the process,  partners come along; during the process, partners may drop out ‘any day, any time’, so ‘joint submission’ may render invalid some 11 months of work when/if one of your partners drops out. Anyone starting or running a project needs flexibility over the matter.”

A UK colleague added: “The principle of mutual benefit…works well when applied to countries with comparable maturity, size and scope of AV industry, but can be a challenge in relation to emerging smaller markets, such as Africa and the Caribbean region.”

In a series of spontaneous comments on issues not covered by the questionnaire, France’s society of authors SACD  suggested that MEDIA Mundus “would be more effective if it focuses on some geographical priority areas where European works do not circulate (and vice-versa): it does not seem to be the case since at least four projects aim to the Canadian market and professionals.”

Furthermore, SACD argued that “the funds allocated to MEDIA Mundus are very limited and that it is essential to reinforce the budget after 2013 and to avoid the dissemination among too many actions.”

However, the UK’s DCMS had a contrary view about the programme’s budget, describing the current budget provision as being “adequate” and noting that it would be “resistant” to any proposed budget increase.

“Resources could be better used if MEDIA Mundus and the current MEDIA Programme were amalgamated to provide a new, encompassing ‘fit for purpose’ international programme,” DCMS stated. “The new MEDIA Mundus needs a set of well-defined indicators and measures to ensure that the Programme objectives are clearly understood and communicated and that it can be rigorously evaluated.”

Similarly, comments were divided on a proposal to establish a network of “international MEDIA Desks” for the next round of MEDIA Mundus. A UK organisation remarked that “if this new programme is to rest on the principle of mutual benefit, then ‘someone’ has to look after it outside of Europe. To that end, we are supportive of the idea of contact points in non-European regions, provided they offer value for money and that costs can be met within the existing funds.”

Spain’s ICAA also supported the idea of creating a new network of contact points, adding: “we consider that it will be more efficient to use the know-how and the accumulated experience of the existing network of MEDIA Desks, which is a great source of information for international and European professionals of the audiovisual sector.”

However, a German respondent countered: “no extra MEDIA Mundus contact points [are needed], [they] should be integrated in the existing MEDIA Desks.”

MEDIA Mundus had been launched during the Berlinale last February with a € 15m budget for 2011-2013 “to explore ways of reinforcing global cooperation between EU and non-European professionals from the audiovisual industry to their mutual benefit”.

The current programme is focussing on training, facilitating market access and encouraging international sales, promotion, circulation and exposire of audiovisual works worldwide on all possible distribution platforms.

Projects benefiting from MEDIA Mundus have included European Promotion’s Producers Lab Toronto, PRIMEXCHANGE Europe-India, Warsaw’s CentEast Market, and Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Commission’s Ties That Bind.