Currently in its fourth edition, the initiative provides an opportunity for UNIC members to meet with representatives from the European institutions to discuss current trends in cinema-going in their respective territories, as well as both national and European policy developments that impact the sector.
UNIC and its French members met with 4 Members of the European Parliament and the offices of two other MEPs, as well as representatives from the European Commission DG CONNECT’s Audiovisual and Media Policy Unit and the Permanent Representation of France to the European Union.
The day began with a meeting with Anna Herold, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s Audiovisual and Media Policy Unit, DG CONNECT. The discussion mainly focused upon the implementation of the European Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), as well as broader cinema-going figures and trends from France in 2019. The importance of the future Creative Europe MEDIA Programme was also touched upon, alongside the need for cooperation between regulators at national level and future work on independent producers.
The delegation then moved to the European Parliament for a series of meetings with MEPs and/or their offices. The first, with Member of the Committee on Industry and Research (ITRE) and Substitute Member of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) François-Xavier Bellamy (EPP) focused on a broad presentation about cinemas in France and in Europe with more specific details on the cultural, social and economic importance of cinema exhibition and was followed after lunch by a discussion with Member of the CULT Committee Salima Yenbou (Greens) on cinemas’ efforts in terms of innovation, cinema-centric film literacy schemes and accessibility and inclusion. A third meeting at the Parliament, with Substitute Member of the CULT Committee Bernard Guetta (Renew Europe) further explored the relationships between cinemas and online VoD platforms and current developments in the French cinema industry.
For the final meeting at the European Parliament, the delegation met with Member of the CULT Committee Laurence Farreng and the offices of MEPs Stéphane Séjourné, Member of the JURI Committee, and Pascal Durand, Substitute in the JURI Committee(all Renew Europe). In a lengthy discussion, subjects included the value of cinemas for European citizens, audience demographics, film literacy and awareness-raising initiatives including the Parliament’s LUX Film Prize, current stakeholder discussions on Article 17 of the EU Directive for Copyright in the Digital Single Market, the Geo-Blocking Regulation and the upcoming Digital Services Act proposal. The increasingly diverse offer of cinemas was also addressed, both in terms of alternative content such as opera and the growing popularity of subtitles screenings in their original language. Above all, the shared experience of watching films together on the big screen was highlighted.
To finish the day, the group then headed to the Permanent Representation of France to the European Union for a meeting with Séverine Fautrelle (Counsellor for Culture, Audiovisual and Copyright). Thoughts were shared on platform regulation, the upcoming European Commission guidelines on the implementation of the AVMSD and the practicalities therein as well as the large number of legislative developments relevant to cinemas from the previous mandate. Ongoing discussions relating to the EU Copyright Directive were also discussed, particularly the different stages of implementation at national level across the EU.
Once again, a huge thank you to both the FNCF and UGC for joining us on the day – one of many to take place throughout the year for UNIC members.