B4: Do all social groups have reasonable opportunities to produce and disseminate knowledge via media and communication?
EU institutions see the production and dissemination of knowledge as a mean for promotiting a common understanding and reinforcing european identity, in respect of cultural and lingustic diversity.
In the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe one of the objectives under Article 3 is that the Union shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced, while Article 151.2 of the EC Treaty states that action by the Community shall be aimed at supporting and supplementing the action of the Member States in the area of artistic and literary creation, including in the audiovisual sector.
Nevertheless, many of the programmes promoted by the EU in this area are more addressed to the commercial exploitation of knowledge and content (according to the coclusions of the Lisbon European Council where content industries were seen mainly as a mean to “create added value by exploiting and networking European cultural diversity”) than to support marginalised groups in the production and dissemination of knowledge via media.
According to the "High Level Group on the Employment and Social Dimension of the Information Society" (ESDIS) “while globalisation is rapidly gaining momentum in the net economy, Europe's e-content scene remains fragmented, with relatively few European actors active at international level, limited intra-European information flows, and weak ties between players belonging to different but complementary sectors in the e-content value chain, which in turn lead to missed market opportunities. Moreover, the take-up of Internet, media and language technologies within the European content sector is often slower than in competitor regions, thus hampering the development of a successful and internationally competitive industry”
The axis of european initiatives in this area are the eContent Programme, MEDIA Programme and Culture 2000.
The eContent Programme is based on three lines of action:
– improving access to and expanding use of public sector information;
– enhancing content production in a multilingual and multicultural environment;
– increasing dynamism of the digital content market.
It is aimed at encouraging co-operation in the European content and language industries, thus helping to improve the competitiveness of both sectors by supporting the design, production and distribution of high-quality e-content in an increasingly multilingual and multicultural environment.
The overall goal is to investigate and experiment with new strategies, partnerships and solutions for designing and producing easily localisable e-content products and services ("internationalisation"), and having them adapted to the requirements of the intended target markets and communities ("localisation"), while reducing the associated cost and time-to-market and facilitating further content management and re-purposing work. Actions are aimed at making local offerings meet the requirements of European and global markets and alternatively at making global offerings meet the needs of local communities.
Trans-national and cross-sectoral actions address three broad areas and communities:
– corporate content: businesses and public-sector actors (e.g. utilities) which intend to establish or strengthen their presence on the e-commerce scene through e.g. web marketing, retailing and customer care offerings adapted to the linguistic and cultural requirements of a broad range of user groups;
– public content: public-private partnerships geared towards the wider deployment of public information across languages and cultures, including actions aimed at connecting knowledge in areas such as cultural creation and education, in cooperation with Action Line 1 and other relevant EU instruments.
– commercial content: e-content players planning to enhance their offerings (e.g. web portals, mobile services, broadband information and entertainment services) through effective internationalisation strategies and localisation processes;
The MEDIA Programme
The Media Programme aims at strenghtening the competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry.Equipped with a budget of 400 million euro MEDIA brings support both before and after production. MEDIA co-finances training initiatives for audiovisual industry professionals, the development of production projects (feature films, television drama, documentaries, animation and new media), as well as the distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works.
It was instituted by two decisions :
– Council Decision 2000/821/EC of 20 December 2000 on the implementation of a programme to encourage the development, distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works (MEDIA plus - Development, Distribution and Promotion) (2001-2005);
– Decision n°163/2001/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 January 2001 on the implementation of a training programme for professionals in the European audiovisual programme industry (MEDIA TRAINING) (2001-2005)
The MEDIA Programme also aim to support the development, distribution and promotion of european media products, taking account of structural objectives, such as developing potential in countries or regions with a low audiovisual production capacity and/or a restricted linguistic or geographical area, and/ or the development of an independent European sector, in particular SMEs.
The European Parliament, in its Resolution of 18 November 1999, recognised the European audiovisual sector's special role in sustaining cultural pluralism, a healthy economy and freedom of expression, reaffirmed its commitment to the freedom of action in the sphere of audiovisual policy obtained at the Uruguay Round, and took the view that the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) rules on cultural services, in particular in the audiovisual sector, should not jeopardise the cultural diversity and autonomy of the WTO contracting parties.
Culture 2000 was established by the Decision No 508/2000/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, adopted on 14 February 2000 and prolonged by Decision No 626/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004.
It seeks to encourage cultural creation and mobility, access to culture for all, the dissemination of art and culture, intercultural dialogue and knowledge of the history of the European peoples. It also accords culture a social integration and socio-economic development role.
On the side of the support to local communities and mariginalised groups in the production and dissemination of knowledge the Council Resolution of 8 october 2001 on e-inclusion states that the Eu should facilitate “appropriate on-line content and services, accessible according to demand profiles, understandable and affordable for all people” and raise “awareness of the information society's opportunities and challenges, in particular among technology- shy people, including the elderly, and within communities at risk of digital exclusion, as well as by sensitising ICT producers, information providers, social partners and political actors to the special needs of disadvantaged people in terms of ICT equipment, on-line content, and information society jobs”.
Part of this strategy is also recalled in the eEurope2005 action plan, supporting the establishment of user-friendly public Internet access points in all local communities which could feature free access, on-site training facilities, and locations favourable.
For the realization of this goal Member States should use structural funds and work in collaboration with the private and/or voluntary sector, where necessary.
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