Aznar doubts 'cultural exception' at Washington meet

BRUSSELS — Influential European film directors org Fera has slammed Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar for casting doubts on Europe’s need for a cultural exception to global trade rules.

The exception, negotiated during international trade talks, enables European countries to restrict the amount of U.S. film product, TV and music that can be broadcast on their TV and radio networks.

Fera accused Aznar of “turning into a clone of Jean-Marie Messier.” Before being ousted as chief exec at Vivendi Universal, Messier famously antagonized the French film establishment by claiming that the cultural exception was dead.

The Spanish prime minister argued, in a meeting with U.S. and Spanish company bosses in Washington, that the cultural exception was “the refuge of cultures in decline.” He added that he was not afraid of globalization.

This is despite the fact, Fera said, that Spain is “a poor country which owes its economic revival to EU subsidies.”

Fera’s members include the Directors Guild of Great Britain, France’s Societe des Realisateurs de Films and Germany’s Bundesverband der Fernseh und Filmregisseure.

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