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FUEN represents the interests of minorities in the Stakeholders’ dialogue on access to and availability of audiovisual content across the EU

On 22 November 2021 FUEN took part in the second meeting with the audiovisual sector and other relevant stakeholders initiated by the European Commission as a follow up to the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan. This plan, which has been issued in December 2020, focuses on the news media sector (including printed and online press, radio, and audiovisual services) and audiovisual entertainment – in particular cinema, TV radio and video streaming as well as video games and innovative formats, such as virtual reality experiences.

The Commission intends to accompany the transformation of the audiovisual industry by launching a dialogue with the sector, which will contribute to agreeing on concrete steps to improve access to and availability of audiovisual content as a follow up to the Geo-blocking Regulation review. It is envisaged to define in these stakeholder dialogues possible specific targets to increase the circulation of audiovisual works across the EU. The Commission plans to monitor the progress in the achievement of the specific targets in cooperation with the audiovisual sector. The European Commission does not intend to adopt new legislative measures: according to their intent the dialogue should lead to a joint self-commitment of the stakeholders. 

Associations and representatives of the film and broadcasting industry, as well as of artists, are disproportionately represented in this dialogue and are naturally reluctant to liberalise the audiovisual sector. FUEN is one of only two civil society groups which is invited to these dialogues beside the whole audiovisual industry.

FUEN is represented in these meetings by Vice President Angelika Mlinar. During the first meeting on 9 November 2021, statistics were presented by the Commission showing that there are significant differences between Member States in terms of access to audiovisual media content. The first meeting served to gather the first opinions of the stakeholders involved. FUEN Vice President Angelika Mlinar emphasised in this meeting that the discussion in the stakeholder dialogue should not be limited to the provision of audiovisual content by video-on-demand platforms or similar service providers, but should also address, for example, free-to-air catch-up services, as content such as cultural programmes or documentaries is not available or only available to a limited extent on VOD platforms.

The second meeting’s topic was the improvement of dissemination and discoverability of audiovisual works across the EU. In this regard, the FUEN Vice President highlighted the deficiencies in the distribution and availability of audiovisual contents in regional or minority languages, saying that the improvement of availability in Member States should also mean availability in minority and regional languages by aiding and developing translation, dubbing, post-synchronisation and subtitling activities, in compliance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Another proposal of FUEN was that the 30% quota for European works should also include audiovisual contents from neighbouring countries which have recognized the same official languages.

“It would constitute an important step if the audiovisual industry could also embrace the objectives. (…) In doing so, the European audiovisual industry would become a beacon worldwide for language diversity”, said Angelika Mlinar, adding that these objectives cannot be assumed solely by the industry: the European Union and the Member States must also pull together and support the efforts made by the industry.

The roadmap foresees four more full-day meetings to find solutions to improve the situation. During the dialogue, FUEN will do everything in its power to find partners to promote the concerns of national minorities, i.e., improved cross-border access to digital media content, especially to free media content of the broadcasters, by providing possible approaches to solutions.