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Audit to sanction its continuance

A long-awaited audit of the five-year EC Media initiative, which is designed to support Europe’s film and TV industries, will recommend that Media continues beyond its current 1995 expiry date.

German management consultants Roland and Berger completed the audit in late March, but details are being kept under wraps until the company’s findings re presented to the European Council of Ministers in June.

However, when Media topper Holde Lhoest was introduced to French communications minister Alain Carignon at Mip-TV Friday, she remarked that the report was very positive about Media.

The audit has led to some bitter divisions within the 20 programs that make up Media. In 1990 Media was granted a 200 million ECU ($ 236 million) budget over five years — 20% less than hoped for. This year the budget is $ 56 million , which reportedly leaves $ 82 million for 1994 and 1995.

Faced with a tightening cash situation, some program toppers have been worried that they may face budget cuts or even closure.

But while Lhoest steadfastly refuses to comment on details of the audit, Daily Variety understands that it give Media a clean bill of health. In particular, Roland and Berger calculate that for every 1 ECU invested by the various programs in the form of seed money, around 30 ECUs are generated.

In addition, Roland and Berger rated the 20 programs, giving assessments from excellent to poor. Around 50% of the programs were described as excellent and none got the thumbs down.

It appears that the audit will recommend that the initial five-year life of Media be extended for at least another 10 years with an average annual budget of around $ 60 million. The audit goes before the EC Council of Ministers, which will decide whether or not to continue with Media and in what form, in June. The Council is expected to rule before the end of the year.

Even if the audit is upbeat, there is still some concern that faced with the current economic malaise in Europe, the Ministers will be reluctant to devote increased funds to Media.

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