EU beefs up media funding schemes

Brussels hikes MEDIA program's budget

BRUSSELS — The European Union is preparing to bolster support for the television and film industries, extending several schemes that provide vital funding until 2006.

The MEDIA Plus and MEDIA Training programs, due to last from 2000 until 2005, will be extended for one more year. Their budgets were $382 million and $54.6 million respectively; these will be upped to $475 million and $62.6 million for the new six-year arrangement.

The Culture 2000 project, due to expire at the end of 2004, will be stretched another two years with funding boosted from $182 million to $258 million for the six-year period.

The MEDIA programs support about 250 productions a year and distribute about 50 films a year outside their country of origin. The Culture 2000 plan has funded over 700 collaborative projects that highlight Europe’s cultural diversity. It also funds promotional campaigns and training for professionals.

A spokesman for the U.K.’s Film Council welcomed the news, saying that it fitted in with European industry attempts to form longer-term creative alliances. “Programs like MEDIA enable us to work with European partners and to promote U.K. films within the larger European market,” he said.

Extending the life of the funders also gives the EU more time to prepare new ones, which it now foresees beginning in 2007.

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