2013.11.25 14:12

EUROVISION FILM WEEK - opinion editorial

EBU | LRT 2013.11.25 14:12

In this era of budget cuts and meteoric technological progress we, the public service media of Europe, reaffirm our conviction that European cinema is a common good for all who call this continent home.

In this era of budget cuts and meteoric technological progress we, the public service media of Europe, reaffirm our conviction that European cinema is a common good for all who call this continent home.

Our public service mission is to provide a quality cultural offer that is richly diverse, innovative, and accessible to Europe and the wider world. Fundamental to this is a substantial investment at every point along the film value chain, from production to promotion and distribution.

Mindful of this and of our commitment to the promotion of European culture, we have launched EUROVISION Film Week – the largest, most accessible film festival ever. Twenty-six EBU members, European public service broadcasters, will show select feature-length films, all produced in Europe, many unknown outside their country of origin. Radio and television channels will air debates, documentaries about films, interviews with stars, directors and writers, and talk about the magic of film music.

Italian-American director Frank Capra said, “Film is one of the three universal languages, the other two: mathematics and music”, an unwittingly appropriate observation in the European context. And with so many countries and cultures in Europe, cinema today, like public service broadcasting, remains a root contributor to national identity.

European public service media and European film exist in delicate symbiosis; neither would prosper without the other. We are proud to be part of this relationship, and will strive to safeguard its continuity. Public broadcasters provide the most watched platforms for film viewing – the average TV viewer sees about 80 films per year at home. And PSBs are among the biggest film investors and promoters, as well as often being the commissioning parties. In short, public broadcasters are the film industry’s most significant silent partner. Seven of the 11 European films that competed for the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year were co-financed by public broadcasters, including the winner – “La vie d’Adèle (Blue Is the Warmest Colour)”. Equally, public service media supported Golden Lion winner “Sacro Gra” at the Venice Film Festival.

Many European PSBs support filmmaking because of their remit; we invest far more money in filmmaking than privately-owned media companies. More than all others, it is public broadcasters that promote independent filmmaking, produce films and series, have fixed transmission slots for national film productions, and set aside more airtime for European films than their private counterparts. In 2011 around 52% of films in public TV schedules were European, compared to just 33% in the case of private media groups (European Audiovisual Observatory based on Rovi data). In 2010, the 56.7 billion euro European film industry was made up of 88,000 separate companies employing 380,000 people. But our film industry needs action if it is to remain successful and competitive.

Lightning-speed broadband is becoming commonplace, giving households finger-tip access to an array of delivery platforms. At the touch of a button, viewers can browse an endless library of blockbusters and rarities, which will inevitably lead to an increase in film viewing. Easier access to audiences is great news for film lovers and producers, but it also means that national and European filmmakers will have to work even harder to get noticed. In addition, the silent partner underpinning this industry has problems of its own. Public broadcasters are under serious financial pressures that are, largely, politically driven. Many public broadcasters today have to meet extra costs and the need to provide additional services on an increasing number of platforms with static or shrinking resources.

Regrettably, the success of our vital, vibrant film industry is limited by a struggle to transcend national borders. Most European countries mainly show either US or domestic productions in cinemas. Indeed, in 2012, American films represented 62 percent of the EU market and national films almost 20%, leaving only a 14% market share for non national European films (European Audiovisual Observatory).

European filmmakers are turning out a top quality product that is only reaching a fraction of its potential market but, with the right will, this can change. Through greater investment in quality subtitling and dubbing, cross-border marketing and promotion, this hurdle can be overcome. But we believe that greater political support is needed at national and EU level, training should be enhanced and improved, and international coproductions should be encouraged and incentivized.

For our part, we must be shrewd about the features we invest in, and make marketing and promotion, so fundamental to the success of films, a higher priority. Finally, we will do our utmost to maximize our films’ reach, and to take account of script quality, production and artistic input.

Mr. Jean- Paul Philippot, EBU President and RTBF Director General (BE)

Petrit Beci, Director General, Albanian Radio Television (AL)

Ms. Margarita Grigoryan, Executive Director, Public Television of Armenia (AM)

Dr. Alexander Wrabetz, Director General, ORF (AT)

Ms. Vyara Ankova, Director General, Bulgarian National Television (BG)

Mr. Themis Themistocleous, Director General, Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CY)

Mr. Petr Dvorak, Director General, Czech Television (CZ)

Mr. Leopoldo González-Echenique, President, RTVE (ES)

Mr. Lauri Kivinen, CEO, Yle (FI)

Mr Balazs Medveczky, Director General, MTV (HU)

Mr. Noel Curran, Director General, RTÉ (IE)

Mr. Pól Ó Gallchóir, Director General, TG4 (IE)

Mr. Antonio Marano, Deputy Director General, RAI (IT)

Mr. Audrius Siaurusevičius, Director General, Lithuanian Radio and TV (LT)

Mr. Sergejs Nesterovs, Member of the Management Board, Public Latvian Television (LV)

Dr. Juliusz Braun, President, Telewizja Polska (PL)

Mr. Andrzej Siezieniewski, CEO of the Board, Polskie Radio (PL)

Mr. Petr Fedorov, Deputy Director General, Director of RTR Foreign Affairs (RU)

Ms Cilla Benkö, Director General, Sveriges Radio (SE)

Mr. Marko Filli, Director General, RTVSLO (SI)