Film firms urge tougher Euro quotas

Alliance wants less TV programming from abroad

BRUSSELS — European film companies are urging the European Union to toughen up the TV Without Frontiers Directive, which imposes quotas on the amount of non-European programming that broadcasters in the 15-nation bloc can carry.

The European Film Companies Alliance (EFCA) wants the EU to impose stronger obligations on broadcasters to show and invest in local films, tougher requirements to support local broadcasting, stronger obligations to support independent production and restrictions on ad breaks when a film is being broadcast.

Speaking as public hearings began in Brussels on Monday on revision of the measure, EFCA chairman Rasmus Ramstad said that it made no sense for TV companies to get away without showing a single European film and yet not be contravening the directive. “The review is an opportunity to change this,” he said.

Ramstad is president of Swedish producers’ group AB Svensk Filmindustri. Other bodies represented by EFCA, founded in 1995, include Germany’s CLT-Ufa, France’s Studio Canal and Pathé and Scandinavia’s Nordiskfilm.

EFCA also cites a report by Brussels lawmakers showing that of 574 films broadcast by one U.K. channel in 2002, only one was a local title less than eight years old. Despite this, it was not in breach of EU rules.

The hearings, which last through Wednesday, are also addressing issues like the protection of minors and the right of reply. The EU is due to publish its opinion in late 2003 or early 2004.