The EFAD association met on 12 February in a plenary configuration on a virtual format, due to the COVID -19 pandemic restrictions. 30 European Film & Audiovisual Agencies were represented.
Concerns over the MEDIA programme
EFAD members have been extremely active in promoting the success of the Creative Europe MEDIA programme and welcomed its increased budget (here). These additional resources should support the entire value chain of the audiovisual sector hardly hit by the COVID crisis and should primarily be used to boost the existing successful schemes with the objective to promote cultural diversity. The MEDIA programme has been a "tailor-made" programme for the European audiovisual industry for the past 30 years. It has been shaping, supporting and developing the film sector through many specific supporting schemes, especially designed for each part of the film industry. The conditions of this unique success story should be preserved.
EFAD members expressed their deepest concerns over the preparation of the next Media Programme. Member States and their representatives still lack clarity as to the changes that will be introduced into existing schemes as well as the potential participation of third countries complying with the AVMS Directive, such as Switzerland. Therefore, the EFAD members respectfully request that the Commission swiftly engage in a more genuine and constructive consultation with stakeholders and Member States on the content of the 2021 MEDIA programme.
EFAD members are in particular sensitive to worries expressed by festivals across Europe over a possible removal of the individual support although essential for them. The EFAD calls on the Commission to engage in a constructive dialogue on this specific support. EFAD members are also receptive to distributors’ concerns and consider that the development schemes are vital to the European production sector. These schemes should remain open to a large scope of beneficiaries and should continue to support the development phase of emerging projects. They insist on the need to avoid additional delays in the future calls and to put in place transitional solutions to ensure continuity of funding. Last but not least, they look forward to seeing the new preparatory action “Writing European” implemented, in the benefit of teams of European authors, co-creating new projects and co-writing the stories of tomorrow.
EFAD members discussed about the situation of the audiovisual sector, the impact of the outbreak and the measures taken in the different countries. National film funds continue to support the sector via different schemes and instruments. EFAD members have indeed been very pro-active in their response to the crisis, inventing new schemes to keep being as close as possible to the needs of the sector and open new perspectives. On this point, the EU state aid framework (GBER, Temporary Framework) would deserve to be adapted to the new dynamics of the audiovisual sector in Europe. EFAD is determined to explore all the opportunities that may arise for the European industry and European film culture, as the pandemic made apparent the evident desire of cinema exhibitors, both in Europe and across the world, to broaden their offers. This could be a very positive development for European independent titles over time.
A promising MAAP
EFAD members shared views on the recent European Commission´s initiatives and in particular the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan as well as the proposed measures about gender and inclusion objectives. With the Media Invest platform, EFAD welcomes an accurate and crucial initiative to reaffirm the place and the importance of the audiovisual sector within the European market. This instrument will be a meaningful platform to develop innovative ways of financing. EFAD supports the Commission’s willingness to promote the independence of the European audiovisual sector and is looking forward to the Commission’s proposals on its concrete implementation.
In parallel, EFAD keeps working on a daily basis, within the EFAD Gender and Inclusion Working Group on strategies and best practices to ensure women promotion and diversity in the audiovisual sector. Moreover, EFAD has set up a Sustainability Working Group and will also be happy to participate in the structured exchange of best practices and explore how the audiovisual industry can better integrate environmental objectives.
Copyright -related initiatives
On geo-blocking and cross-border access issues, EFAD takes good note of the conclusions of the first short-term review of the Geo-blocking Regulation and the European Commission’s cautious approach. It also suggests to precisely document the impact of the Portability regulation on cross-border demand – in the framework of its forthcoming review - before proposing any new regulatory changes. EFAD and its members will be glad to participate in the dialogue on broader availability of audiovisual content with the objective to offer an always larger access to European works while preserving territorial exclusivities which is at the core of the financing of European films. On the Digital Services Act – EFAD welcomes the new measures to better prevent illegal online content including the new traceability obligations (Know your Customer). Transparency measures on algorithms are also welcomed and should be completed by an obligation to share consumption data with right holders and relevant public authorities.
The efficient implementation of the AVMS Directive: a priority
Ensuring a swift and efficient implementation of the AVMS directive remains EFAD’s priority.
The crisis has revealed that it has never been more urgent to seize the opportunities of the Directive to enable online services to contribute both to the financing and promotion of European works. A majority of Member States will implement levies and/or investment obligations for VoD services so that they contribute to a vibrant independent European production scene.
The European Commission supported by ERGA should continue to play an active role in facilitating the Directive’s smooth implementation via precise monitoring and reporting activities. A stronger administrative cooperation between audiovisual regulators (ERGA members) and between audiovisual regulators and film funds is indeed a must in the years to come. Supporting the development of technical tools such as Lumiere VoD would be very much welcome to facilitate compliance (ex. for calculating the respect of the 30% VoD quota and assessing the qualification of European works). EFAD also believes not only in a strong monitoring but also on incentives to reward VoD services that are the most ambitious in terms of promotion of European works online. A European Cultural Diversity label could for example be launched to distinguish virtuous VoD services that are taking active and innovative actions to ensure the prominence of European works.