EU culture ministers have voted unanimously to accept a budget of Euros400m for the European Commission's audiovisual programme MEDIA Plus.

The UK, Germany and the Netherlands had initially opposed the budget which is already Euros150m lower than the sum proposed by the European Parliament. MEDIA Plus' predecessor, MEDIA II, had a budget of Euros310m.

The Euros400m will be split between training (Euros50m) and the development 'envelope' (Euros350m). Of the Euros350m, at least 20% has been set aside for development, 57.5% for distribution, 8.5% for promotion, 5% for pilot projects - particularly in the field of digital technology - and 9% for 'horizontal' costs, including running each member country's Media Desk.

The budget was cleared at a Council of Culture Ministers in Brussels on Thursday (Nov 23). During the meeting, Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture and Audiovisual Policy, said that she wanted 'complete transparency' in the running of MEDIA Plus. She asked the ministers to ensure that sufficient means were made available for the Media Desks, which play a crucial role in informing and helping professionals who want to participate in the programme.

Reding also announced to the ministers that she is in final discussions with the European Investment Bank on the creation of a venture capital fund for the film and TV production industries (ScreenDaily, November 15).