EU approves aid for filmmakers

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BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a seven-year aid package for European filmmakers that it said could reap 20 times its €671 million ($842 million) cost.

The Parliament, the European Union's elected assembly, said that every euro ($1.3) granted to the Media aid program in the past has generated €5.8 ($7.3) in follow-up investment, €2.8 ($3.5) in education, €7.2 ($9) in distribution and €4.2 ($5.3) in development.

"Previous Media programs have made major contributions to Europe's audiovisual sector and have delivered good value in doing so," the Parliament said in a statement after MEPs adopted the budget for the 2007-2013 Media program. The package received the green light from the Parliament's Culture and Education Committee earlier this month (HR 10/17).

The Parliament report, drafted by German MEP Ruth Hieronymi, has shifted the focus of the original plans proposed by the European Commission, the EU's executive. It now emphasizes the importance of European cinema for intercultural dialogue, linguistic and cultural diversity, principles of human dignity, equality and non-discrimination.

It also underlines aid for digitization to help overcome the fragmentation of the European market and improve the access to Europe's cinematographic heritage. And MEPs have ensured more support for companies specializing in loan financing in the audiovisual sector and in the highly important issue of access to credit.

Some 90% of European co-productions are currently backed by the Media aid. It supports close to 250 works annually and helps distribute more than 50 European films outside their countries of origin.

The program's priorities include strengthening the production structure of the European audiovisual sector, particularly for small businesses; helping countries or regions with low production capacity or a restricted geographic and linguistic area; and supporting digitization.
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