Film Directors and European Media Governance
By Cécile Despringre, February 2007
Main facts and figures of the European audiovisual sector
The audiovisual sector (cinema, television and all other distribution channels for audiovisual works) in which directors work in Europe is a puzzle of national markets that the EU tries to integrate into a single market in spite of lots of differences between one country and another, not only linguistic. For directors, the audiovisual sector is fully part of the cultural sector and the EU approach should take into account this cultural dimension. Films are creative works which require a specific treatment and often need support to exist and travel across borders. Due to the importance of films for the cultural identity of societies, the European audiovisual industry and governments have a special responsibility for protecting and promoting audiovisual cultural diversity.
Europe produced nearly 800 films in the 25 Member states in 2005. Admissions fell back under the 1 billion milestone in 2005, with a total of 892 million admissions registered (1 007 million in 2004). European films achieved a market share of 24.6% in 2005. Films produced in Europe and benefiting from incoming US investment obtained a market share of 13.3% (examples of films in this category are Harry Potter and the Globet of Fire, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Un long dimanche de fiançailles). US films amounted to 59.9% of market share and others from third countries only 2.2%. At national level, markets are dominated by US films, complemented by national films, leaving barely any room for European non national films.
On TV, national programmes are more present but US films and series are usually the only alternative screened and European non national programmes are practically absent.
That is why the development of new audiovisual media services in Europe and especially video on demand services must be a fresh chance for European cinema. FERA recognizes the new opportunities it can offer to European filmmakers and to the circulation of European films. Nevertheless, contrary to the common belief that “cultural diversity is automatic online”, FERA believes that if the VOD market is to develop to the benefit of European cinema and is to avoid the polarising aspects of the traditional markets – i.e. with a majority of Hollywood films and a token complement of national or independent films and barely no space for European non national films – then a regulatory intervention is required.
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