Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme is to boost its funding for the online distribution of European films this year.

A total of €1.25m has been siphoned off from the Cinema Automatic Scheme supporting the distribution of non-national films to be transferred to MEDIA’S Online Distribution scheme, which will now have $5.9m (€5.4m) at its disposal to support 20 projects during 2015.

The Cinema Automatic Scheme will consequently have funding totalling $23.2m (€ 21.2m) - the largest single item of the MEDIA sub-programme’s $114.3m (€104.5m) budget for 2015 to date.

According to a Commission document, the Online Distribution scheme will aim to support:

  • ¨European VoD services aiming at improving the presence, the visibility and the global audience of European audovisual works¨ ($3.55m/€ 3.25m);

  • ¨the preparation of digital packages facilitating the commercialisation of European audiovisual works on VoD platforms¨ (€1.15m);

  • “innovative approaches for multiplatform releases of one or several European films in at least two countries participating in the MEDIA sub-programme¨ ($1.09m/€1m),

Cross-sector actions

Modifications to Creative Europe’s work programme for 2015 also see the transfer of $218,770 (€200,000) within the framework programme’s cross-sectoral strand to the fund the establishment and administration of the new STARTS Prize for the promotion of collaboration between the arts and innovation.

It is envisaged that two prizes of $21,877 (€20,000) each would be awarded in two categories, one for ¨artistic exploration and art works where appropriation by the Arts has altered the use, deployment or perception of technology¨, and one for ¨collaborations of industry or technology with the cultural and creative sectors and Arts.¨

Moreover, $1.09m (€1m) are to be made available for another new action in the cross-sectoral strand for supporting innovation in the cultural and creative sectors through reinforcing networks of creative hubs throughout the European Union.

Creative Europe’s cross-sectoral strand - which will include a financial guarantee facility from next year - aims to support ¨transnational exchange of experiences and know-how in relation to new business and management models, peer-learning activities and networking among cultural and creative organisations and policy-makers related to the developmen of the cultural and creative sectors, promoting digital networking, where appropriate.¨

Digital Single Market update

The European Commission’s (EC) proposals for its Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy continues to be debated at a political level as well as with stakeholders through the EU’s 28 Member States.

Last week, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Working Group on the Digital Single Market invited key EC officials such as Martin Bailey of DG CNECT and Permanent Representatives to the EU to take part in an in-depth exchange of views on the DSM package.

Speaking on behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR, the UK MEP and former cricketer Dan Dalton addressed the mixed signals coming from the Commission on the ¨very important issue¨ of geo-blocking.

¨The [Commission] paper tries to make it clear that it doesn’t want pan-Europan licensing yet, at the same time, it seems to open the door to [it] by suggesting that unjustified blocking shall be blocked,¨ he observed and also referred to the comments made by Commissioner Oettinger in Cannes that film, television and sports might be excluded from the drive against geoblocking.

Meanwhile, Luukas Ilves, Attaché for Digital Affairs at the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU, argued that the proposals on copyright and geo-blocking were issues  likely to lead to controversial and heeated discussion within the European Council of heads of Member States when they meet later this month.

¨No-one here is under any any illusions that this will be easy. I think from Estonia’s perspective we would say on the question of territoriality, we are not against territoriality, but we don’t see why - where possible - where we can actually reach agreement between the Member States, the Parliament and also the rights-owners and stakeholders involved, that we wouldn’t want to move to a situation where territoriality is more European.¨

¨Whether we make that mandatory or through legislative implements, that would be a point for discussion,¨ he suggested. ¨But it is clear that the political goal should be, where possible and where the market conditions are in favour of this, that territoriality should be European. That is just taking something which has been a basic principle of how the single market works in many areas and applying it to intellectual property.¨

Ilves’ compatriot, the EC’s Vice-President Andrus Ansip has been busily banging the drum for his plans to create a digital single market.

He spoke at the venerable Brookings Institute in the US last week and gave a presentation at the European Digital Forum yesterday (Monday).

Ansip admitted that the Commission’s plans for copyright reform will ¨certainly be controversial¨, declaring: ¨Today’s rules are a mess. So we need to act with some urgency.¨

He admitted that ¨Europe’s strength lies in its cultural diversity,¨ but qualified this statement by adding that ¨culture thrives on exchange and openness - not from being locked away on cultural ‘islands’ where others cannot gain access.¨