Bolster European players and force global internet giants to adhere to local fiscal and financial obligations related to culture, say directors.

Europe’s top filmmakers are urging the European Commission to consider alternatives to its proposed Digital Single Market (DSM) to bolster the circulation of creative works across borders within the European Union.

“As copyright’s core principals are being questioned by some who erroneously think they hinder culture’s availability, we want to set out a new way of exhibiting cinema,” read the statement.

Their proposals come in response to the European Commission plans for a Digital Single Market (DSM), which would involve overhauling copyright legislation – a move TV and film professionals across the region argue will destroy current financing models and leave Europe’s creative industries in tatters. 

More than 20 top directors signed the proposals, including Oscar-winning Michel Hazanavicius and Paolo Sorrentino as well as Palme d’Or laureates Ken Loach and Cristian Mungiu.

“We share the European Commission’s will to facilitate film availability to all… but let’s not go about it in a way that could be destructive for cinema.”

The directors’ alternative proposals included bolstering existing support for Europe’s exhibition circuit, which remains patchy in some territories, and a new charter for the EU’s public broadcasters to aid the diffusion of more European films throughout the region.

“Efforts have to be maintained to mitigate the theatrical deserts that still exist in a number of places… movie theatres remain the best meeting places for films and audiences,” said the statement.

“We ask that public broadcasters work on a charter for a better spreading of European films between them throughout Europe, with a focus on exchanges, but also mutual and reciprocal programming. They should also be helped in the development of their digital platforms. We hope for an independent European digital film platform, and TV broadcasters could very well be at the core of such an initiative.”

The directors acknowledged that VOD had a key role to play in the increase of cross-border circulation, but added that legislation should be adapted in such a way that supported “the rise of  European players, capable of competing with global ones”.

“The internet has long been the subject of our worries, particularly since it helped piracy develop to previously unknown levels. We want to believe it can today become the best partner of European cinema. It can be part of the virtuous circle that comes from sharing wealth and value between all those who contribute to the financing of creation,” read the statement.

The group added that it was essential the European Commission focused on two goals: “spurring the development of the European players who finance and editorialise European cinema” and “to encompass global internet giants” within national fiscal and financing obligations related to culture.

“We urgently devise a cultural tax system to which global players must adhere. The ideas of the French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin about a taxation of bandwidth usage should be taken into consideration and thought out,” the directors said.

Thursday’s statement was issued to coincide with a day of European film industry discussions organised as part of the annual Rendez-Vous with New French Cinema in Rome.

The programme included a debate on the evolution of copyright statutes in Europe and a round-table improving the distribution of European cinema on television and VOD in Europe, featuring Wild Bunch president Vincent Grimond and France 3 CEO Dana Hastier as panellists.