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How to foster online distribution of European works across the EU?

The EFADs publishes new report summarising the Cannes roundtable discussions on challenges and solutions to online distribution across borders

Improving online access to European works is a priority and at the heart of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy. To reach this objective several initiatives are being considered at EU level which includes legislative and non-legislative proposals. Whilst the European Film Agency Directors (EFADs) are concerned by the disruptive impact measures imposing full cross border access and passive sales would have, it is important to explore other measures to stimulate the growth of online distribution so that it benefits the financing, production and distribution of European films.

EFADs

On 17th May 2016, the EFADs and the European Commission convened a roundtable on “How to foster online distribution of European works across the EU? Priorities for public and private actors.” The roundtable took place in the context of the Cannes Film Festival and the European Film Forum. It brought together the European Commission, film funds and industry stakeholders to identify the main challenges regarding online distribution across borders and potential solutions, outside of the current legislative discussions on cross-border access which are taking place at EU level.

The EFADs report on the roundtable summarises those discussions which took place in four sessions: (1) VoD Platforms in the EU: Access and Promotion of European Works; (2) Publicly Supported Initiatives; (3) The Market Players’ Perspective; (4) Solutions for the Future. The main challenges and solutions identified by the participants included:

  • Less than 50 percent of EU films released in cinemas are available on TVoD and films get released in fewer countries on VoD than in cinemas. There is a lack of data available on film performance and audiences online and there is an acute issue of copyright theft and infringement.
  • There should be stronger obligations on VoD platforms to promote and allocate a share of their catalogue to European works.
  • An increase in the number of independent services in Europe will maximise the visibility and availability of local European films and talent.
  • Film education should be improved to build young audiences and fight copyright theft and infringement.
  • More support is required to improve the promotion of European works and to develop search tools for available legal offers to increase visibility and fight piracy.
  • The market needs more loans and venture capital.
  • Making accessible European films which are nominated or win awards should be a priority.
  • More effective marketing would encourage audiences to choose European content.
  • Common technical standards for VoD platforms should be created and more resources are needed to support VoD as an export mechanism.
  • Tech hubs, a list of aggregators, and a consolidation of content delivery and storage should be developed.
  • A lift on geo-blocking to increase the circulation of films in unsold territories is important.
  • The theatrical window and exclusivity should continue to be recognised in support instruments due to the important role of cinemas in the success of films on VoD. The Europa Cinemas network should be developed.
  • Better tools are needed to determine whether a film is for the theatre or not.
  • There should be an obligation on VoD platforms to make data on film performance and audiences transparent and available to the value chain.
  • Stronger enforcement measures are needed and this should take into account the role of intermediaries.
  • There should be more collaboration and community between the members of the value chain and funding bodies. The whole value chain needs to be taken care of.
  • The European Commission’s accompanying measures play an important role.

The full report can be found here and a summary of an EFADs questionnaire which was presented during the roundtable here. The questionnaire highlights that there is a high level of public support already provided to distribution, promotion, subtitling and improving the visibility of legal offers, including online.