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Open Letter to Estonian Presidency from European Film Producers & Distributors

Your Excellency Ms Kaja Tael,

This week, the European Parliament will vote in Plenary session on the so called “cable and satellite” regulation. You will also preside over potentially determining discussions on the text during the COREPER meeting on Friday. We, European producers and distributors, are deeply concerned that the European Union risks rationalising a large piece of Europe’s priceless culture into oblivion by treating films and TV programmes like ordinary manufactured products sold on the EU’s single market.

European films and series are costly and time-consuming to make. They sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in acting, production, distribution, filming, costumes, stage design, marketing and other services, and carry many other sunken costs. The financing and distribution of films and TV content in Europe relies on the exclusive licensing of rights by territory and producers fund their productions by selling those rights in different European countries at prices that reflect the local market and local demand.

This could all be blown apart by an EU regulation inspired by the misguided belief that films, documentaries, historical dramas or Nordic Noir crime series – or even major league football matches – can be traded as though they were cars or insurance policies.

The EU wants to bring its rules governing cable and satellite transmission into the modern age. So far, so good. But the European Commission proposal is taking it much further, decreeing that a production bought for broadcast in one country can be made available online right across the EU. If the European Parliament and Permanent Representatives ultimately decide to follow the line taken by the Commission, the impact for European producers and distributors will be devastating.

Consumers will pay more for lower quality content because producers will not be able to secure returns to reinvest in new sophisticated productions. Small European producers will suffer. They will see their negotiating power decrease against broadcasters if they cannot control dissemination of their work online across Europe, thereby jeopardizing the European film and TV industry. And all this to feed a fundamentalist view of how Europe’s Digital Single Market should work.

Cultural diversity is a European competitive advantage. It is also extremely fragile. We support the digital single market, but it must reflect business reality if that diversity is to stay alive in an online world, especially when powerful lobby groups with scant regard for copyright press so hard for costly content to be available for free.

Territorial exclusivity lies at the heart of European content production. We therefore urge you to examine the arguments expressed here, which have been echoed for months across the cultural and creative sectors, and take them into consideration when working towards finding a final agreement in Council and ultimately embarking in a trialogue phase with the European Parliament and the Commission.

Yours sincerely,

A Contracorriente Films – Eduardo Escudero, Managing Director & Partner

Allfilm – Ivo Felt, Producer

Atipica Films – José Antonio Félez, Founder and Producer

Bright Moving Pictures Sweden AB, Börje Hansson, Managing Director

CEPI (European Coordination of Independent Producers) – Jérôme Deschesne, President of CEPI

European Producers’ Club – Marco Chimenz, President

FAPAE (Spanish National Federation of Film and TV Producers) – Ramón Colom, President

FIAD (International Federation of Film Distributors Associations) – Victor Hadida, President

FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) – Börje Hansson – Vice-President

for Europe

GFM Films – Michael Ryan, Partner

IFTA (Independent Film & Television Alliance) – Jean M. Prewitt, President and CEO

IVF (International Video Federation) – Gian Maria Dona dalle Rose, President

Metropolitan Films – Victor Hadida, President

Nordisk Film A/S – Allan M. Hansen, CEO

SF Studios AB – Michael Porseryd, CEO

Studio Cattleya – Marco Chimenz, Managing Director

Working Title Films – Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Co-Chairmen

X Filme Creative Pool – Stefan Arndt, CEO

Zentropa – Anders Kjærhauge, CEO

CC: Permanent Representatives, Deputy Permanent Representatives and IP attachés

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