Audiovisual Policy

Audiovisual Policy in Europe

Description of Audiovisual policy

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes audiovisual policy in the following terms: [1] The EU’s policy, largely driven by France, of subsidising film-making and prescribing language quotas for television programmes. The anti-competitive – and in effect anti-American – nature of the policy was defended during the contentious ‘Uruguay Round’ of GATT negotiations in 1993 on the grounds that it was necessary to protect the EU’s cultural life.

European Union Audiovisual Culture and Policy

In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty called for the Union to contribute towards culture development in the Member States while respecting their national and regional diversity and, at the same time, bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore. The treaty lists the incentive measures, but excludes any harmonisation. In its measures under other provisions of the same treaty, moreover, the EU is required to take account of cultural aspects, particularly in order to respect and promote diversity. In the audiovisual sector in particular, the protocol on the system of public broadcasting in Member States, appended to the Treaty establishing the European Community, is very important.

Against this background, the Education, Youth and Culture Council is particularly concerned with the natural tension between cultural interests and the need to achieve and ensure the operation of a single internal market. The cultural sector, particularly the audiovisual (films and TV), can be said to belong in part to the market sector. With regard to the commercial sector, Community law and policies have a direct impact on national policies, which explains why the search for equilibrium between cultural and economic interests is the common thread that runs through all the Council’s work.

The exclusion of any harmonisation in the culture sector explains why there is so little legislation in this area. European law (Council and European Parliament) is based on the functioning of the internal market. The Television without Frontiers directive outlines the framework of the free movement of television broadcasting within the EU.

European legislation on cultural assets then establishes how the Member States can effectively protect their own cultural heritage.

Besides legislative measures, the council has established incentive programmes in its capacity as co-legislator:

  • the Culture 2000 programme enables grants to be awarded to European culture capitals and to projects that encourage the organisation of special cultural events, the promotion of literature and reading, and preservation of the cultural heritage;
  • the Media Plus and Media Training programmes involve the training of audiovisual professionals, development of production projects, distribution of cinematographic works and audiovisual programmes, etc.


Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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