In its article British film producers warn of new EU threat to industry, 10 February 2015, The Independent reports on what it describes as “EU plans to shake up the online distribution of films” and quotes two representatives of the film industry who foretell the imminent death of Europe’s independent film production.
The article goes on to explain that the alleged plan will make it impossible to create in future films like the recent British hit Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) or the films that were at the BAFTAs .
But the European Commission is not at this stage proposing anything. A proposal is scheduled for later this year, after consultations with all interested parties, but it will not mean changes in how films are made, nor prescribe digital release models. Of course, proposals for new EU laws require approval by a majority of MEPs and a large majority of national Ministers-they cannot be imposed by the European Commission.
Far from being a threat to European independent cinema production, the EU is a supporter of it. In fact, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner (mentioned in the article) received financial support from the EU’s cultural programme Creative Europe for its distribution in European cinemas. Another British production that received similar funding is one of the BAFTA winners – Pride, by Matthew Warchus (BAFTA award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer). In 2013 alone, British films received a total of £4.5m to support their distribution in Europe.
Commissioner Oettinger’s speech in Berlin (referred in the article) is about users getting fair access in a digital age to content for which they have already paid, are willing to pay or which is not charged for anyway. This is not about reducing revenue for rights holders but providing opportunities to increase it.
In a public consultation concluded last year, 95% of consumers/end users indicated that they faced problems when trying to access online services in another EU Member State.
For example, this is about UK licence fee payers being able to access BBC i-player when on holidays in another EU country or people from one EU country being able to pay for and watch a production made in another country.