The European Community and Audio-visual Culture

David Hutchison (Glasgow Caledonian Univeristy)

Abstract: In recent years the European Community has taken a number of initiatives in the audio-visual field. The background to these initiatives is explored, their scope is explained, and the likelihood of the Community's stated objectives being attained is considered.

Résumé: Au cours des dernières années la Communauté Européenne a pris un certain nombre d'initiatives dans le domaine de l'audiovisuel. Ce rapport étudie le cadre politique de ces initiatives, examine leur ampleur et considère les chances de succès des objectifs fixés par la Communauté.

The European Economic Community came into being as a consequence of the Treaty of Rome, which was signed in 1957 by France, West Germany, Italy, and the Benelux Countries. It became the European Community in 1965 when it absorbed the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Commission (Euratom). In 1974 the original six members were joined by Denmark, Ireland, and Britain, in 1981 by Greece, and in 1985 Spain and Portugal. The "Europe of the Twelve," as it is sometimes known, has no shortage of applicants who wish to enrol, and it has been generally accepted that it is only a matter of time before most other Western European countries are admitted to membership.

The position of the former Communist countries is more problematic: there has been much talk of an enlarged Community embracing the new democracies, but so far only East Germany, by virtue of its unification with West Germany, has been admitted, and it is hard to see how the larger net contributors to the Community budget can be persuaded to agree to the admission of additional countries which have a need for huge subsidies to modernize their economies and infrastructures.

The upheavals in the currency markets that began in September 1992 have put a question mark over the speed at which greater integration will proceed, but there can be little doubt that the European Community will continue along the path of closer inter-nation co-operation, whatever the outcome of the process of ratifying the 1991 Maastricht Treaty, a treaty which, when it was signed, seemed to mark the beginning of Community-wide foreign and defence policies and social policies (with Britain securing an opt-out as far as this latter area is concerned). The treaty also signalled the intention to move towards a common currency before the end of the decade (Britain again reserved its position). Whether this objective can be achieved is now in some doubt. In the aftermath of the Community's confused handling of the Yugoslav crisis, it is also not apparent how a coherent common foreign policy is likely to evolve.

In its early days the Community was popularly known as the "Common Market," and that was an appropriate title, for the basic thrust of the project was towards the removal of internal trade barriers so that goods and services could move freely across national boundaries. It would be a gross simplification, however, to neglect the politics which lay behind the economics: the Common Market locked together the two major powers of mainland Western Europe, France, and Germany, in an embrace, which the founders of the Community believed would remove forever the possibility of another war involving these two former adversaries. And indeed many citizens of the Community, when confronted with the never-ending stream of evidence about the wastefulness of the Common Agricultural Policy, bureaucratic incompetence or fraud at the Community's expense, have tended to grit their teeth and remind themselves that all of this is a price worth paying to ensure that never again will there be armed conflict between France and Germany. Cynics might point out that since 1945 there has never been a possibility of such a conflict, for the real adversarial relationship was between East and West, but by an irony of history the collapse of Communism has removed the external threat, and the relationship between the two European giants has again come to the fore. It is very clear that the political élites in both countries fear the resurgence of nationalist xenophobia, of which there has recently been some disturbing evidence; the determination of these élites to hold their two countries together was very evident in September 1992 when the Bundesbank and the Banque de France joined forces wholeheartedly in order to fend off the currency speculators who, having "defeated" the lira, the peseta, and the pound, had turned their attention to the French franc. The forced realignment of the franc, which followed in the summer of 1993, damaged but did not destroy the Franco-German entente.

If the political thrust of the Community has been clear from the beginning, it has to be said that there has been no comparable cultural thrust for most of the Community's existence. Cultural matters were left to another body with a much wider membership, the Council of Europe. This organization was established in 1949, and has been active in the spheres of human rights and conservation as well as culture. However as the European Community has grown larger and the vision of its ultimate destiny has become grander, it has started to take an interest in matters cultural.

"The commitment of citizens to the European idea depends on positive measures being taken to enhance and promote European culture in its richness and diversity." So said the heads of government of the member countries in 1989 (Commission of the European Communities, 1990, p. 9). In view of the long-standing discussion in Canada about the relationship between national identity and audio-visual culture, to which Richard Collins (1990) has added significant work on Canadian television, it is worth noting that European-ness in a cultural sense is assumed by the heads of government to be plural: there is no suggestion that there should be a move towards some kind of "federal" culture to parallel the moves that are taking place towards a more integrated--if not politically federated--Europe. The link between polity and culture is one in which diversity is seen as the fundamental characteristic of that culture: the ideal European citizen, then, will happily enjoy the artistic endeavors of a wide variety of national cultures other than his own; he will not be consuming "instant Euro-pudding" (Moeglin, 1992). In the Maastricht Treaty of 1991, culture is mentioned again and there is specific reference to the need to encourage "artistic and literary creation, including the audio-visual sphere" (Financial Times, December 12, 1991, p. 7).

To date, the Community has embarked on a number of cultural initiatives. It has subsidized translations of major works of European literature, designated one city European City of Culture for each year since 1985--it was Glasgow's turn in 1990--and spent money on a variety of architectural preservation projects (the Doges' Palace in Venice and the Parthenon in Athens have been among the beneficiaries). But it is in the audio-visual sphere that the Community has made the most effort and had the most impact. The reasons for this are several. First, the dismantling of trade barriers, a process which reached its climax in 1992, means that the film and television industries of the member states, which have developed in national frameworks, are having to adjust to the Community-wide framework in which they are now obliged to operate. Second, there is a huge market potential which is not fully exploited at the moment by European companies, though it is exploited by American corporations. In 1990, for example, reports Broadcast (April 12, 1991, p. 28), Western Europe as a whole imported US$1.5 billion worth of television programming from America. In the late 1980s, 40% of "telefilms" on European public service television channels--those financed by licence fee or a mixture of licence fee and advertising--were American (Commission of European Communities, 1988, p. 22). Forty-three percent of American film studio revenues from theatrical exhibition, television, and video sales and rentals derived in 1991 from abroad (Satellite Television Finance, April 16, 1992, p. 8). Yet the European Community as a whole produces as many films each year as the US. Eighty percent of these, however, never leave their country of origin (Commission of the European Communities, 1988, p. 26).

In purely economic terms, then, the European audio-visual industry would appear, on the available evidence, to be underperforming at home and abroad. This economic argument is linked to a cultural one. As the European Commission, the body which initiates Community action, put it in the preamble to its MEDIA (Measures to Encourage the Development of the European Audiovisual Industry) program:

The audiovisual sector is now seen as a strategic sector for the services industry in the European Community. Although relatively modest in economic terms, its growth is significant: put at ECU1 25 billion in 1990, it should grow to around ECU 35 billion at the end of the decade. In addition to its potential for economic growth, the audiovisual sector is important because of its socio-cultural dimension: as a vehicle for the wealth and diversity of European cultures, its development gives expression to the very essence of the Community. (Commission of the European Communities, 1990, p. 70)

If the peoples of the European Community are to achieve full citizenship of that Community, then it is essential, the Commission clearly believes, that they come to know each other rather better than they do at the present moment, and film and television have a crucial role to play in that process.

Running through all of the Community discussion about this issue is the theme of American cultural imperialism--the sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit, view that Europe sees too many American films and television programs, and that it would be better for its cultural health if it saw fewer. The evidence as to the actual tastes of Europeans is mixed. American movies are very popular: for example in mid-September 1992, of the top grossing 10 films in Germany as a whole eight were American, and two German. In Paris the figures were seven American and three French, although the number one film was a French-British co-production, whereas in Germany the two German films in the top 10 were at numbers five and eight. In Rome seven of the top 10 films were American and three Italian (Screen International, October 20, 1992, p. 24). The share of the audience taken by American films in Community countries increased from 46% in 1980 to 69% in 1991 (Screen Finance, March 25, 1992, p. 15).2

Audiences also have an appetite for American telefilms, but they seem to like indigenous fare too. In Germany in November 1991, for example, five of the 10 most watched programs were German drama series, and in the UK in the same month, six were British drama productions. In the UK there was one American entry, a feature film rather than a made-for-television film. There was no American entry in Germany (TV World, February-March 1992, pp. 57-58). However when the overall figures for television fiction are considered the non-domestic presence is unmistakable: in 1990, 29% of television drama on ARD and ZDF was American and 53% German, while 32% on the BBC channels came from the US and 34% was British. Italy's public service channels derived 80% of drama from America and 7% from Italy, and the French public service channels 43% from America and 35% from France (TV World, October 1991, p. 13).

This and other evidence suggests that European audiences like American audio-visual fiction but most of them also like their own domestic products when they can get them. The problem is one of matching supply and demand. In film no European country has been able to compete with the power of an industry that has a home market of 227 million people in which it can recover over half of its costs. The European market as a whole is comparable, but it has never really existed as such, since it is fragmented into a number of different markets. Some countries, particularly Italy and France, have been able to sustain their film industries by a variety of fiscal and other measures3 and a commitment to the art of film, but others have never managed to do so. The same is true of broadcasting: Britain, for example, has protected its industry by a quota system which has ensured that around 80% of overall programming has been home-produced, and the broadcasters have used that protection to create a strong appetite for indigenous material. As a result, the direct broadcasting service of British Sky Broadcasting (BskyB) which began operations in 1989 has had as much, if not more, success in delivering American movies to British audiences than it has had in offering reruns of American teledramas.4 Other European countries have had less success in resisting American imports, either because they were too small to fund a broadcasting industry on the British model, or, as has certainly been the case in France, there has been detrimental government intervention.

Disapproval of American culture has a long pedigree in Europe, and much writing on the subject is imbued with a hostility to the US, to the masses, and even to democratic practices, with which it is difficult to sympathize. In recent times, blatant anti-Americanism has decreased and a number of critics have drawn attention to the positive effects mass culture from across the Atlantic has had in Europe. Soren Schou, for example, has argued that in Denmark after the war, Hollywood films and American magazines had a liberating and enriching impact, particularly on young people (Schou, 1992, pp. 142ff.). I can corroborate what Schou argues from the experience of growing up in the 1950s in a small Scottish town some 35 miles from Glasgow. My contemporaries and I listened to BBC radio and watched television--when it finally reached us--but nothing compared with the excitement of viewing American films at the weekly cinema matinées, or with listening to early rock and roll records. American film and music spoke to us directly in a way that much British mass culture did not. American mass culture extended our awareness, but it did not obliterate our sense of Britishness or Scottishness. Indeed, the subsequent history of popular music in Britain, if not perhaps of film, demonstrates how one culture can learn from and use another to invigorate itself.

For a European audio-visual policy to succeed, it will have to take account not only of the economic desirability of increasing the share of the audio- visual market controlled by European concerns, but also of the nature of audience tastes and desires, which may be much more catholic and eclectic than some cultural élites might wish.

As will be recalled, the Community's basic objective is the creation of an economic union, and while much energy has been devoted to the dismantling of trade barriers in the belief that thus efficiency will be maximized and the economies of Western Europe will expand, there has been in recent years increasing awareness that European industry is operating in a much more competitive situation than was the case when the Community was founded. The growth in the power of the Japanese and other Far Eastern economies has presented European--and North American--policy makers with a challenge to which they are obliged to respond if the standards of living of their citizens are to be maintained. Central to the success of the Eastern economies is the utilization of advanced technology, and nowhere can that be seen more clearly than in the audio-visual sector. European manufacturers have watched in dismay, as have their counterparts in North America, as Japanese companies have increased their presence in consumer and industrial hardware markets.

The next most likely advance in audio-visual technology is asumed to be high definition television television (HDTV). When it became clear in the early 1980s that the Japanese were ready to propose that the HDTV system on which they have been working since the 1970s be adopted as an international standard, European electronics manufacturers realized that unless some countervailing measures were taken, they would lose access to a potential annual market of US$100 billion.5 Leading companies such as Philips began to lobby the Community with a view to securing its support in their competitive struggles; they received a sympathetic hearing. Community policy in the audio-visual sphere, then, has developed from a mixture of economic, cultural, and technological concerns. Furthermore, it has been formulated during a period marked by the growth of satellite broadcasting and the increased commercialization of terrestrial broadcasting. This has made proposals which run counter to market forces more difficult to justify in some--though not all--of the Community's member states. However, what is striking about the initiatives that the Community has taken to date is the way in which a commitment to liberalization in audio-visual trade within the Community has been accompanied by a concern to ensure that free trade on an international level does not damage either European culture or the indigenous electronics industries. In other words, deregulation of the market has been accompanied by intervention in the market.

In 1989, after a long process of gestation, the Community produced a directive on "Television without Frontiers" (Commission of the European Communities, 1990, pp. 15-22). The thrust of the document was to provide free access by all members to the whole of the EC market. Five years previously it had published a discussion document on the subject. Shortly after the publication of this early discussion document the Council of Europe began work on a Convention on Transfrontier Television.6 The two documents are very similar. The basic difference is that the Council's document relies on the voluntary co-operation of the signatories for implementation, whereas the European Community's document has some political force behind it: a directive is enforceable by Community law, although implementation is at the discretion of each member state. For its part, the Council of Europe has also established Eurimages, a yearly fund of US$18 million which supports cross- border co-production and distribution with interest-free loans. Alongside the Council's initiative came the French-inspired Audiovisual Eureka, and shortly before the Community's directive was accepted by the member states, this gained the support of 26 states, including several of the (soon to be former) Communist countries. The idea of that project--budgeted at US$1.9 million per year--is that the countries concerned should seek to pool technical and artistic resources in the audio-visual area.

The European Community's "Television without Frontiers" directive begins by stipulating that member states should not restrict retransmission of broadcasts, that originate in other member states. This provision accords with the basic free-trade thrust of the Community, and it has already had the effect in the UK of allowing the retransmission of a Dutch "adult" service which would never have been licensed by British regulators. A subsequent legal tussle evolved. Pierre Moeglin has commented on the regulatory project to which the Television Directive is central thus:

At the outset... [it]... had in effect two options from which to choose: a liberal one aligning the audiovisual sector with the goods and services regime to permit, at whatever cost, the most important operators to exist and develop from one country to another, or a constraining one in order to induce the operators to behave as European actors whose programming parameters would be inspired by the need to promote European values and a European identity, this by the indispensable means of financial aid and incentives. Of these two options, the Directive came down in favour of the former: that the operators manage to subsist in Europe in the hope that economic factors will slowly lead them to act as European operators. (Moeglin, 1992, p. 451)

Moeglin is right to draw attention to the choice which has faced Community policy makers, but it seems to this observer that his conclusion needs to be modified: not only have some of the "indispensable means of financial aid and incentives" been introduced, and these will be discussed shortly, but the directive itself seeks to combine the liberal approach to the audio-visual sphere, perceived as an industry, with a protective approach to that sphere, perceived as culture. This is clear from the most controversial section of the directive, Article 4, which states that: "Member states shall ensure where practicable and by appropriate means, that broadcasters reserve for European works... a majority proportion of their transmission time, excluding the time appointed to news, sports events, games, advertising and teletext services." Canadians are familiar with such a quota system and the difficulties of definition with which the directive goes on to grapple. To date a points system of the sort employed in Canada has not been proposed, but some commentators have suggested that it might well be worth considering.7

It has to be conceded that the European quota is not quite what it first appears to be: the phrase "where practicable" seems to offer an all-purpose get-out to those countries, such as Spain, which are reluctant to implement it, and a 50% quota is meaningless in the UK or Germany where indigenous production has always made up a much higher percentage of the total. Furthermore the directive allows the average for 1988 (1990 for Greece and Portugal) to be used as a minimum if the 50% figure cannot be attained. Nonetheless, even this quota caused the American government to lobby hard for its reduction or removal, action which was in the end counterproductive, although the pressure has continued with a threat in 1992 to refer the matter to the Uruguay round of negotiations under GATT (Screen Finance, April 8, 1992, p. 1).

The argument about the quota was a long and hard one, with the French taking a hawkish position. France has used the provision in the directive that enables a country to impose stricter rules, to insist that the European content should be 60%, at least two-thirds of which must be made in the French language, which seems to run counter to the pan-European spirit of the directive (Screen Finance, October 16, 1991, pp. 4-6). Ironically in 1992 the leading commercial broadcaster, TF1, was fined by the French regulatory authority for failing to meet its quota obligations (Broadcast, August 7, 1992, p. 6). The directive goes on to require broadcasters to reserve at least 10% of their transmission time for recent work by independent producers--"where practicable"--and to refrain from broadcasting cinema films for two years from their first release unless there is a specific agreement to the contrary with rights-holders. The first of these provisions is designed to encourage pluralism among program producers, although 10% is a very low quota: in the UK all the existing terrestrial broadcasters have been required since 1990 to offer at least 25% of time to independents. The second is a kind of restriction, variations on which have applied in several European countries for a number of years.

A large section of the directive is devoted to advertising and sponsorship. All tobacco advertising is forbidden and there are guidelines for alcohol advertising. Advertising must not exceed 15 to 20% of transmission time, and there are restrictions on the number of commercial breaks which can be incorporated in programs. Movies, for example, should normally only be interrupted every 45 minutes, and the minimum time between breaks in virtually all other programs should be 20 minutes. To North Americans such provisions might seem draconian, but to many Europeans they are not out of the ordinary. In the UK, for example, their implementation would not have been very noticeable. However what would have been obvious was the impact of the provision on tobacco advertising. Cigarette advertising has been banned for some time, but other tobacco products have been allowed to be advertised. As a consequence of the directive, that practice has now ceased in Britain. None of these provisions has had much impact on the BBC, which carries no advertising (other than of its own products!) nor on the European public service broadcasters, such as ARD in Germany or the NOS-centred Dutch conglomerate, which derive most of their income from licence fees. The directive also contains rules for the protection of minors and the prohibition of the incitement to hatred on the grounds of race, sex, religion, or nationality. It ends with a requirement for the provision of right of reply measures.

Member states were expected to comply with the directive by October 1, 1991, and the Commission is required to report on progress in 1994 and every two years thereafter, and to make further proposals, should it so wish. By October 1992 all but two countries--Denmark and Spain--had notified the Commission of full or partial implementation of the directive, though in some countries adoption of the proposed quota system and the provision of access for independent producers have been very slow. Furthermore, Article 20 of the directive, which states that countries can modify the provisions on advertising if the broadcasts cannot be received beyond the relevant national boundaries, could be used as the excuse for a limited application of the guidelines.

The television directive has not been the sole weapon at the disposal of the Community. If the directive has been something of a stick, the MEDIA program can be regarded as a carrot. This initiative--which is meant to complement the work of Audiovisual Eureka--was agreed in 1990 after a pilot project had been run for the previous three years. Its basic objective is "to promote the European audio-visual programme industry" (Commission of the European Communities, 1990, p. 70) by a series of measures over a five-year period. These measures, budgeted at a cost of 200 million ECUs (US$270 million), include training initiatives, production assistance with, for example, script development, and assistance with distribution of material outside the country of origin. Priority is given to small- and medium-sized undertakings and to those countries whose languages and cultures are less widespread than others within the Community. The newsletter of the MEDIA program8 regularly lists the various projects that have benefited from its assistance--assistance that the Commission is at pains to emphasize is investment rather than subsidy (shades of Telefilm Canada). The reader of the newsletter cannot but be struck by the wide variety of projects receiving support, including documentaries and cartoons, as well as fiction. In addition, there are: a "Média Salles" project designed to encourage the promotion of European films with European audiences; a "Lumière" project aimed at preserving the European film heritage; "Eve," a project designed to support the distribution of European films on video; and "Babel," which helps to fund the dubbing and sub-titling of television programs.

It is too early to pass judgment on the effectiveness of all of these measures, but the civil servants who run the program have been quick to seize on the success of the Belgian-French-German co-production, Toto the Hero as evidence of the value of commission support. Toto the Hero has won several awards, has had reasonable commercial success and has benefited from MEDIA financial support. A project like MEDIA needs at least the five years it has been given to prove itself and probably will require substantially greater funding than it currently enjoys if it is to make a significant impact. Telefilm Canada spends almost one and a half times as much annually as does MEDIA.

The prospects for MEDIA are rather brighter than those of the Community's high-definition television (HDTV) project. European manufacturers, confronted with the Japanese progress in this area, lobbied hard for the Community to direct its attention to the situation, and subsequently a pan-Community program of co-operation has led to the development of the D2-MAC HDTV system. Although some funding has been tentatively agreed to support broadcasters in their adoption of the D2-MAC standard, which would be the precursor of a full HDTV HD-MAC, and a number of broadcasters have transmitted D2-MAC programs on an experimental basis, there is no widespread confidence that the project can succeed. The Commission's aim has been to compel all new satellite services post-1995 to adopt D2-MAC and to encourage existing broadcasters to use it alongside existing standards. The hope is that consumers will be tempted to buy high-definition widescreen sets in order to get the full benefit of these signals. The problem is that receivers are expected to cost US$2,535 in the first instance, and there is every possibility that the Japanese or the Americans may have cheaper systems on the market, one of which might use all-digital rather than the analogue/digital technology employed by HD-MAC. So, at the time of writing it is far from clear that the proposed 850-million ECU (US$1,148 million) HDTV promotion fund will ever become a reality, since the politicians who must sanction the Commission's proposals have developed cold feet, although they have committed resources to encouraging the production of wide-screen television programming.

The Commission has been active in other areas. A draft video copyright directive has been produced, and in line with general policy it seeks to harmonize the situation throughout the Community by giving authors and directors of films and other audio-visual works rights of authorship similar to those enjoyed by producers. Other moves in the copyright area are likely to follow.

The issue of concentration of ownership has, by contrast, received surprisingly little attention. A number of European corporations have built up very strong domestic positions, and while some of them have been content to confine operations to their home territory, others have looked to overseas expansion. The German company Bertelsmann, which in 1991 had a turnover of US$9.4 billion, derives most of that income from publishing and commercial broadcasting within Germany, whereas the French company, Havas (US$5 billion income in 1991), has interests in television in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Fininvest (US$9 billion) has moved beyond its native Italy (where it owns three commercial television channels) into broadcasting in Spain and Germany (Broadcast, July 24, 1992, pp. 26-27). In Britain the Murdoch group of companies produces over 30% of national daily newspapers by circulation and is the dominant partner in BSkyB, the satellite company. Murdoch's companies operate worldwide, and in the US control Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Television (1991-1992 turnover was US$7.3 billion).

Gianpetro Mazzoleni & Michael Palmer (1992) have drawn attention to the remarkable success that media conglomerates have had in fending off attempts by national governments to lessen their power. They make the point that in 1990 six of the EC's member states had no legislative provision to deal with newspaper concentration of ownership, while six had no laws to restrict media cross-ownership; Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands are on both lists. Even where there is legislative provision, it seems to make very little difference: in France, for example, attempts in the 1980s by the socialist government to cut the number of newspapers owned by the Hersant group led to not one single divestiture.

In its 1990 statement on audio-visual policy the Commission raised the issue of pluralism, and insisted that it was committed to its promotion (Commission of the European Communities, 1990, p. 50). It indicated that it intended to study the issue and might at some stage issue a directive. In the autumn of 1992 the European Parliament--which was in favour of much tougher quota rules than actually appeared in the television directive--voted in favour of the establishment of a European Media Council, which would counteract concentration of ownership. The basic thrust of the Parliament's thinking is that existing Community competition law is inadequate to deal with the media, which require a distinctive approach that reflects their role in a democratic society (Broadcast, October 2, 1992, p. 9). At the present stage of the Community's evolution it is not possible for the Parliament to force the Commission to prepare and issue a directive. However in the spring of 1993 the Commission produced a discussion paper on "Media Concentration in the Internal Market" (Commission of the European Communities, 1993), which appears to suggest that the Commission's role would most probably lie in ensuring that the operations of the internal market were not hindered by national governments seeking, for example, to restrict competition in the interests of encouraging pluralism. This does not look like a very promising basis on which to build a Community-wide policy for the democratic control of the media.

The issue of concentration of ownership does raise a fundamental problem at the heart of the Community's approach to the media. The Community believes in the removal of barriers to free trade, but it is abundantly clear that removing such barriers will enable large and powerful media groups to strengthen their positions, should they wish to do so. Indeed it can be argued that Europe actually needs stronger media corporations that can compete with their non-European counterparts. But what is good for business, and for the balance of trade in audio-visual goods, may be rather less good for the pluralism which the Commission once said it is anxious to encourage.

What emerges from this brief account is that the European Community has in recent years taken a generally pro-active approach to audio-visual matters. It remains to be seen, however, what the cumulative effect of its various initiatives will be, and, as has been noted, there is a very real possibility that one of these initiatives, the HDTV program, is doomed. Furthermore, there must be concern that the overall position which results from the Community's MEDIA program, the Council of Europe's Eurimages, and the Audiovisual Eureka project could be one of confusion and overlap, although it should be remembered that it is the Community which has put the bulk of actual cash resources into the field. Most importantly, unless the issue of concentration of ownership is addressed there is every chance that the democratic deficit which, it is alleged by critics of the Community, lies at the heart of its current problems will become glaringly obvious in the media sphere, and will seriously undermine the efforts that are being made to link citizenship and culture. As to the willingness of European audiences to consume more European films and television programs, as was indicated earlier, there is evidence of a desire for indigenous material, but it is far from clear that, when faced with a choice between American material and material from another country in the Community, audiences will take the European option. The fortunes of Arte, a Franco-German bilingual culture channel launched in 1992, and Euronews, launched in 1993 and utilizing five languages, should also provide useful pointers to future audience responses. Whatever happens, American films, and to a lesser extent, television programs, will continue to be watched in Europe. However, as Europe itself in the post-Cold War era takes a greater responsibility for its own destiny, it may just be that a sense of European-ness encourages its citizens to become rather more interested in dramatic fiction that offers insights into the lives of the peoples of Paris, Rome, and Berlin rather than those of Los Angeles, New York, or even Toronto.

The most important point of all about the work of the European Community in the audio-visual sphere is that it demonstrates that after the deregulatory enthusiasm of the 1980s, regulation and intervention are to some extent at least back in fashion.


An ECU = US$1.35 at October 1992 rates of exchange.
The process has now been extended into the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe. Screen Finance reports (June 3, 1992, pp. 15ff.) on the dominance of American product in several of these states in 1991. Equally striking is how quickly new American releases now reach Eastern European screens.
For an account of the measures of support available to domestic film producers in Western Europe see Perilli (1991).
The share of viewers' time devoted to films on BSkyB and cable is three times that devoted by viewers of terrestrial television in the UK, while the time given to general entertainment on satellite and cable is about three-quarters of that devoted by viewers of terrestrial services (see Congdon, et al., p. 105). In "satellite and cable homes" (about 11% of households) the terrestrial channels take 60% of viewing, compared to 94% of all viewing in the country (ibid., p. 113).
For a discussion of the technical and economic issues involved see Corcoran (1992).
For a detailed comparison of the Council of Europe's convention and the European Community's directive see Hirsch & Peterson (1992).
See, for example, Broadcast, April 16, 1992.
Available bi-monthly from the Commission's Brussels-based Directorate General "Audiovisual, Information, Communication, Culture," this document lists in detail the various projects that have received assistance under the various schemes of the MEDIA program.


Collins, Richard. (1990). Culture communication and national identity: The case of Canadian television. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Commission of the European Communities. (1988). The audio-visual media in the single European market. Luxembourg: Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities.

Commission of the European Communities. (1990). The European Community policy in the audiovisual field. Luxembourg: Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities.

Commission of the European Communities. (1993). Pluralism and media concentration in the internal market. Luxembourg: Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities.

Congdon, T., Sturgess, B., National Economic Research Associates, Shew, W., Graham, A., & Davies, G. (1992). Paying for broadcasting. London: Routledge.

Corcoran, Elizabeth. (1992, February). Picture perfect. Scientific American, 266(2), 72-81.

Hirsch, Mario, & Peterson, Vibeke G. (1992). Regulation of the media at the European level. In Karen Siune & Wolfgang Truetzschler (Eds.), Dynamics of media politics: Broadcast and electronic media in Western Europe. London: Sage.

Mazzoleni, G., & Palmer, M. (1992). The building of media empires. In Karen Siune & Wolfgang Truetzschler, (Eds.), Dynamics of media politics: Broadcast and electronic media in Western Europe. London: Sage.

Moeglin, P. (1992). Television and Europe: More questions than answers. Canadian Journal of Communication, 17(4), 437-60.

Perilli, Patricia. (1991). A level playing field? London: British Film Institute.

Schou, Soren. (1992). Post-war Americanisation and the revitalization of European culture. In M. Skovmand & K. M. Schroder (Eds.), Media cultures: Reappraising transnational media. London: Routledge.

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