The European Union’s MEDIA Programme is to provide €3.5m ($4.6m) for new initiatives developed for the digital era, which must be launched from January 2014.

A budget of €1.5m ($2m) has been set aside for a series of pilot projects, with a particular emphasis on the introduction and use of information and communication technologies, in four areas:

  1. new ways of creating and distributing European audiovisual content via non-linear services;

  2. open media production environment;

  3. the use of web techniques to develop local cinema communities in the promotion and marketing of films;

  4. the creation of a so-called “Audiovisual Junction Portal” for better exploitation of structured information about European audiovisual content across multiple databases.

MEDIA’s financial contribution will take the form of a grant and not exceed 50% of the eligible costs.

The will be a second tranche of €2m ($2.6m) for multiplatform releases of films.

A consortia of producers, sales agents, distributors and VOD platforms are being invited to apply for funding to test the simultaneous or quasi-simultaneous release of European films in different EU Member States and on several distribution platforms.

MEDIA intends to select three groups, which must include at least two sales agents, and will support up to a maximum 70% of the eligible costs of a project.

The first tranche had been awarded last autumn to three consortia coordinated by Wild Bunch (Speed Bunch), ARP (TIDE) and Artificial Eye (EDAD) and with partners ranging from Europa Distribution and The Match Factory to Goldcrest.

The TIDE project was launched last month in France with Pierre-Yves Bourgeaud’s documentary Viramundo: un voyage musical avec Gilberto Gil on the Orange, iTunes and Vidéo en Poche platforms as well as in cinemas the Utopia cinema chain and the Cinéma des Cinéastes in Paris.

TIDE’s partners have agreed on a second title as part of the experiment: Ferzan Ozpetek’s 2012 drama Magnifica Presenza, starring Elio Germano and Margherita Buy.

VoD premiere for Arte documentary

Franco-German broadcaster Arte is putting documentary Peter Brook - The Tightrope on Premium VOD from June 5 ahead of its broadcast on Arte on July 3.

The film, which was produced and directed by Simon Brook and screened in Venice’s Official Selection last year, will be available on ArteVOD, Universciné, and iTunes as well as the cable boxes Free, Numericable and SFR in an initiative unprecedented in France or the rest of Europe.

Brook told ScreenDaily that the idea behind this VoD avant-premiere is “to promote the free TV broadcast using word of mouth from the VoD. Which we can do as we were partly financed by the broadcast arm of Arte and, as such, can skirt the media chronology issues.”

European Parliament study reports on access to content

In a related development, the European Parliament’s (EP) Policy Department has delivered a report on how various sectors including cinema and videogames can respond to the challenges of the digital era regarding access to content in Europe.

The report, commissioned by the EP’s Committee on Culture and Education, noted that the proposed Creative Europe programme is already intending to respond to some of the problems identified.

However, the report’s authors suggest that Creative Europe should be more specific in addressing such issues as cross-border online
distribution of media and content.

Gucht’s cultural exception “regret”

Also in Brussels this week, European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht expressed his “regret” about the EP’s vote last week - by 381 votes to 191, with 17 abstentions - in a plenary session to exclude audiovisual services from the negotiating mandate for the forthcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks with the US.

Speaking during a so-called structured dialogue with the EP’s International Trade Committee, de Gucht said that “the [European] Council still has to decide on the matter, so this is not the end of the journey. We set out aiming at the broadest mandate possible. Chipping away, issue by issue, out of concern, lack of trust or too narrow a focus will not deliver the added value expected of the TTIP.”