To the delight of Hollywood, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor is insisting that European Community TV programming quotas be revised and that a stronger emphasis be placed on protection for copyrighted works if world trade talks are to succeed.
Kantor’s comments came in a speech in Brussels this week following two days of talks with EC members over the stalled trade talks known as GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade).
Kantor called for “major improvements” in the text written by GATT general director Arthur Dunkel, including changes in “such important areas as intellectual property to ensure fair treatment of copyright owners (and) services to ensure that the audiovisual sector is addressed. … We insist that European integration legislation policies treat U.S. firms fairly.”
Kantor’s remarks are the most explicit yet from the Clinton administration on the subjects of most interest to Hollywood: the EC broadcast directive that calls for a majority of programs in prime time to be of European origin, and the rampant video piracy problem that costs producers millions each year in lost revenue.
Motion Picture Assn. of America prez Jack Valenti yesterday hailed the Kantor comments as “welcome news” for Hollywood. “He’s saying that this is going to be the policy of the Clinton administration. It’s a wonderful statement that comes at just the right time.”
Valenti, in a speech before the Center for Strategic & Intl. Studies in Washington, said Kantor has a “quicksilver touch around the negotiating table” and is well aware that the U.S. film industry runs an annual $ 4 billion trade surplus.
“I think the president understands the immensity of this trade prize, and I know Mr. Kantor does,” Valenti said.
Valenti used the occasion to rail against EC directives that he claimed “regulate every nook and cranny” of the program marketplace. The objective of some EC members is to plant enough barriers in front of U.S. studios so as to force them to produce films and programs in Europe, Valenti claimed.
The MPAA head said he was not engaging in “foreign bashing.” All U.S. producers want, he said, is to be treated the same way foreign producers are treated in the U.S.