EC Media Assistance Program Ready To Divvy The Dough

With 200 million European currency units (about $250 million) in its pocket to spend over the next five years, Media, the aid package for the audiovisual industry funded by the European Community, is ready to start discussing who gets how much.

The first meeting of the Media Committee is set for Jan. 24 in Brussels. Topic: Media’s plans for 1991 and the budget each program will have.

The amount voted for Media the EC Council of Ministers on Dec. 21 is 50 million ECUs short of what Media head Holde Lhoest projected as a minimum, but she isn’t complaining. “We can live with it,” Lhoest said.

Half of Media’s 12 programs that generate aid or seed money for film and tv were approved unanimously by the Council of Ministers. Others – like Euroaim (supporting indie producers at major film markets), EVE (video distribution), and Media Venture (risk capital for film and tv) – have had to accept “compromises,” says Lhoest.

Meanwhile, two new Media programs are about to take wing. Greco deals with the broadcasting of indie productions, and the Denmark-based Ivens program supports documentaries.

It is ironic that Italy – a major contributor to the fund and the country that came to Media’s rescue on the crucial Council of Ministers’ vote – still has no program run from its home turf. The much-touted “SOS” project, designed to help European cinemas and to be based in Rome, appears stalled because of slow response on Italy’s part.

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