"European films succeed not only on their own national cinema markets, but also and increasingly in other European countries and other continents", Viviane Reding said. At the same time, the Commissioner underlined that European films still miss huge opportunities because of the fragmented audiovisual market in Europe and of the lack of a more proactive approach on new markets worldwide. EU commercial balance on audiovisual services remains a worrying issue. Audiovisual industry employs 1 million people in the EU. "We need to improve Europe’s strategy on film exports at a time where digital distribution and film online offer new possibilities and look at new markets such as Brazil, South Africa or China. I am working on that."
In Europe, the MEDIA programme remains of vital importance to the European audiovisual sector. The European Commission had proposed to grant a budget of 1.055 billion € to MEDIA between 2007 and 2013. The European Parliament and the Member States are currently negotiating on the funding which will be finally granted to MEDIA. The MEDIA programme today supports the distribution of 9 out of every 10 feature films in Europe that are distributed outside their home country. Through an increase in investment in distribution supported by the new “MEDIA 2007” programme, the policy target is to raise the market share of non-national European films from 10 to 20% over the next 7 years. MEDIA has a strong knock-on effect in terms of investments in the audiovisual sector since each euro from the Community budget generates 5.75 € in the industry .This “leverage” effect ranges from a factor of x 2.38 in training to x 7.2 in distribution. MEDIA therefore draws in considerable supplementary amounts of private and public investment.
The current MEDIA-programmes, MEDIA Training and MEDIA plus, run from 2001 to 2006 and have a budget of 513 Million Euros. In 2005, MEDIA invested 100 million € in European cinema, in the fields of training, development, distribution and promotion. Last year, among other actions, MEDIA financed more than 1.500 distribution projects, enabling European films to be seen outside their territory of origin.
At this year’s 78th Academy Awards, there were – besides March of the Penguins – another four MEDIA supported movies nominated for Oscars: Sophie Scholl (Germany), Merry Christmas (France/Germany) and Paradise Now (Palestine/Netherlands) in the category “Best Foreign Language Film” and Darwin’s Nightmare (Belgium/Austria) as “Best Documentary Feature”. These four movies together have received almost another 1.5 million € in MEDIA funding.