The largest audiovisual market in the world is set in the European Union. It is expected to grow by 70% in the next decade. With this expansion comes along challenges and opportunities for growth. Because of this, the European Union has decided to set up Media Plus, a program created to give support to European Union’s audiovisual industry. This program is intended to support the development, distribution, and promotion of Europe’s audiovisual industry. The program intends to focus on the following sectors: cinema, television, documentaries, animation and multimedia.
Member countries in Media Plus include: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Because of the rapid rise in digital technology, the production of audiovisual products has grown both in scope and in number. The demand for films, TV programs and other multimedia services has grown as well.
The goal of Media Plus is to strengthen the competitiveness of the industry in order to drive growth and translate that development into more jobs, better products and an improved cultural identity for each member country.
The European audiovisual industry is expected to grow by 69% over the next few years, with direct expenditure by households accounting for as much as 33% to 48%, advertising and license fees accounting for the rest, with the most innovative services and products like interactive TV and multimedia applications accounting for a significant portion of that growth.
The audiovisual industry in Europe has huge potential, and only needs the proper development of its marketing, branding and distribution policies. New products and services also need to be cultivated and integrated with European linguistic and cultural aspects by making full use of archive and copyright management.
In order to fully profit in this growth, the industry will have to increase the availability of its products worldwide, particularly in Asia and South America. To do this, the industry must strengthen its communications groups and network of small businesses. Right now, four of the ten major communications groups in the world are in Europe.
The program is implementing two main strategies as its development focus. Media companies need to develop their infrastructure and policies in order to create a genuine European audiovisual market. Two, it must strengthen the growth of media companies by creating a media directory that will enable these companies to reach out to other industries and increase their public exposure.
The new commission of the program has since then put forward new directives as part of its campaign to strengthen the industry. First, it amended the Television without Frontiers directive regarding certain provisions concerning the regulation and administrative action against or for member states relating to each country’s broadcasting activities.
Second, it put forth a proposal to create the European Guarantee Fund which will be used to develop film and television production. And third, the creation of the Media II program, intended to widen European audiovisual reach by providing financial encouragement for the distribution of audiovisual programs.
Television without Frontiers has especially been successful in its drive to make the industry stronger and better. It provides European broadcasters a firmer ground by which they can expand their broadcasting activities within the European Union. The Guarantee Fund has also been well received by member countries in the program.
Assisting member countries in its drive for growth is also a part of the program’s focus. Media companies are encouraged to provide technical information to other companies of member countries through conferences, workshops and continued correspondence. Active collaboration is not only encouraged but heavily supported with financial grants and supportive legislation. The use of open standards is also being pushed by the program.
As part of its media directory activities, the program has launched its information campaign disseminating the directory for public and industry use within the European Union.
To date, the program continues to formulate new policies and strategies to drive the growth of the European audiovisual industry. Member countries meet regularly in council and vote on important legislation concerning the further promotion of European audiovisual products to other markets.
New communication infrastructure is being developed constantly, with content and image production being pushed to higher and higher limits. The program has also allocated part of its budget to develop and rationalize the instruments supporting the industry as a whole. This includes the training of new and old personnel, development of new techniques, and streamlining production and distribution services all throughout Europe.
It expects to see the growth of new multimedia funds, increased projects in films, TV, documentaries and animation, and creation of catalogs covering over 2,000 productions. It also expects to produce more than 2,000 works of video by more than 200 media companies, promotion initiatives and campaigns for films to be distributed to cinemas worldwide.
The program also expects to raise industry revenue by 55% because of the expanded market being pushed. Television will continue to play a major role in the revenue growth, expected to account for more than 65% of the revenue, while the increase in market share of European program producers is expected to be more defined in certain markets other than TV. Cinema, video and interactive TV will all have a larger segment of the pie than TV. This is particularly encouraging since these markets have long been dominated by American media, long considered as the alpha media in the world.
With the continuous support of Media Plus to the industry, and the sustainable development of its policies, the program expects to raise the standards of European audiovisual industry. It looks forward to a day that European media will once again be considered the alpha media of the world.