EU chief backs Media

Member states will decide on program's future

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s most senior civil servant has moved to quash rumors that the Media program of film subsidies is under threat.

“There were some reports saying that the European Commission had the intention to reduce it, which is completely inaccurate,” said its president, Jose Manuel Barroso, in a statement released Monday.

He added that the commission would propose measures to “reinforce” the program. Details are expected to be revealed at a meeting in Brussels on March 18.

Concerns that the Media program was under threat began at the Berlin Film Festival, leading to a vocal industry campaign against any change.

Fears centered on the suggestion that resources would be reduced, with the risk that Media could be merged with other European Union initiatives.

With a budget of €755 million ($1.06 billion) from 2007-13, the program aids the development and distribution of films and other audiovisual products, as well as training professionals in the sector.

While the commission will propose a budget for Media beyond 2013, along with program initiatives, the final decision falls to EU governments and members of the European Parliament.