European audiovisual and media content discussed in Ljubljana

Ljubljana – An international conference discussed the accessibility and competitiveness of European audiovisual and media content in Ljubljana, with Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti saying that only a strong European audiovisual sector could be competitive on the global market.

He said that some technological solutions used during the Covid-19 epidemic had proven to be welcome and useful, as they had allowed European and other viewers access to contents.

The minister said “we should learn that the virtual and physical worlds co-exist and do not exclude each other and that the digital transformation sets up long-term development while honouring the guaranteeing of equal conditions for all participants on the market and respecting the main principles of freedom of expression and creation”.

Simoniti said the conference, which was held as part of the Slovenian EU presidency, was an exceptional opportunity for representatives of different interest groups to “listen and understand” each other.

He pointed to the action plan for support to recovery and reshaping of the media and audiovisual sector by the European Commission, saying it was to have long-term effect on the sector’s development.

Giuseppe Abbamonte, who is in charge of media policy at the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology at the Commission, said the Commission was monitoring the trends in audiovisual and media industries to make sure that European contents were not excluded.

Their strategy for boosting diversity and competitiveness is based on two pillars: a modern regulatory framework that supports the creative sector and protects the European diversity and the financial framework that supports the industry’s recovery.

He pointed to the directive on audiovisual media services that sets the minimum quota of European production on VOD platforms. He said it was important for EU countries to transpose the directive as soon as possible.

In Slovenia a bill proposed by the government fell short in a parliamentary vote in September following a veto by the upper chamber of parliament.

Under the government’s defeated proposal, content providers would be required to earmark 6% of their gross annual revenue to a special fund for the promotion of domestic production which would be under the control of the Culture Ministry.

Uršule Menih Dokl, director general of the media directorate at the Culture Ministry, said the conference had brought no solutions but had offered a quality debate while also uniting the different stakeholders.

She said participants had agreed that VOD platforms were gaining ground, to which advertisers were responding, which was causing changes to the advertising market, especially in terms of the traditional dividing of shares.

They believe awareness should be raised about the importance of the media and audiovisual sector.

Also discussed was the promotion of European works and regulative issues, with Menih Dokl saying that a debate on this had come to a conclusion that new distribution and business models were required and that transposing the EU directive on audiovisual services into national legislations was becoming increasingly important.

Since market and consumer habits are changing quickly, policies and business models should adjust as well. It is also very important to know what people are watching, what they want to watch and in what scope.

Robert Heslop, secretary general at the International Federation of Film Distributors’ Associations, told the STA that distributors welcomed the new VOD platforms and that they saw them as complementary part of the system rather than rivals.

But they find it the most important that after the pandemic films return to the cinema.