EFJ Calls on Europe's Cultural Ministers to Invest in Public Broadcasting Services

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) together with the European Arts and Entertainment Alliance (EAEA) has called on the French Minister of Culture and other European Cultural Minsters attending the Chaillot Forum on ''Future of Europe, Future of Culture'' to maintain investment in the cultural and audiovisual sectors.

The group has highlighted the fact that public braodcasting services in many countries have become victims of drastic funding cuts, leading to the elinmination of a great number of jobs and a related weakening of their capacity to carry out their public service mission.

[Full statement]

EAEA and EFJ Declaration at the Chaillot Cultural Forum “Future of Europe, Future of Culture”

Cultural sector workers, represented by their European trade union federations, wish to express to the assembled ministers their grave concerns regarding cultural policies as they are currently implemented within the European Union.

Like other sectors of the economy, cultural institutions and media outlets are affected by the global recession and austerity policies. However, the perception that cultural spending is a luxury, that may be drastically reduced or even eliminated, is shockingly short-sighted.

In the Member States, cultural budgets have all too frequently been used as adjustment variables for national economic policy: many orchestras, theatres, and companies have simply disappeared. Every country in Europe has seen an unprecedented reduction in public financing of cultural activities. Nationally funded institutions are the most severely affected, but the cuts have affected creation and production at every level.

Public broadcasting services in many countries are the victims of drastic funding cuts, leading to the elimination of a great number of jobs and a related weakening of their capacity to carry out their public service missions. Increasingly, this even threatens their editorial independence. The quality, independence and sustainability of these services are in jeopardy, as are the pluralism and democratic values which they should uphold, according to the Amsterdam Protocol on public service broadcasters. Public funding for cinema has also been significantly cut. The constant questioning by the European Commission of Member States’ state aid to cinema hinders the development of a strong industrial policy and undermines cultural diversity.

In this context, cultural and media workers wish to draw the attention of the ministers to several key points for consideration at the European level:

  • Culture is not commercial good.The European Union must keep it outside the scope of international trade negotiations. In this respect, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions must be the foundation for European policies in this area.
  • Social protection schemes for cultural and media workers must be maintained and developed, in accordance with the UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of the Artist of 1980. Austerity policies must neither weaken them, nor threaten their existence.
  • While audiovisual services are explicitly excluded from the “services” directive, live performance remains within its scope. We call for the exclusion of the cultural sector as a whole from the scope of the directive, when it is revised.
  • We call for a serious review of value added taxes in Europe, in order to put an end to the fiscal imbalances that penalize European businesses and economies, in relation to the Internet giants.
  • We note the ongoing attacks on intellectual property rights, despite their essential role in the economy of the cultural and media sector. Commercial piracy continues to flourish at the expense of authors, performers, and producers, while the widespread normalization of free, unauthorized use of protected works saps the very notion of intellectual property of its meaning. In Member States, certain legislative initiatives considerably narrow the scope of these rights, but fail to foresee any compensation to creators in exchange for these limitations.
  • While the creative works and content produced through the work of authors, performers, andjournalists are exploited more widely than ever, thanks to the democratization of Internet access, creative workers themselves derive little benefit from the immense profits generated; indeed, they are frequently obliged to assign their rights in exchange for a paltry buyout. It is vital that they obtain remuneration for all types of use of their works, via a fair and balanced share in the revenue generated. Their moral rights must also be recognized, particularly the right of paternity and the right to respect of the integrity of the work. In addition, the businesses that  use their creations and their work, wherever their operating location or environment, should contribute to the funding of new works and content, in order to foster economic and job growth in the sector.

In conclusion, we reiterate that public investment in the cultural and audiovisual sectors cannot be simply replaced by private investment. Such an approach would call into question the right of citizens to have access to works and repertoires absent from the commercial offer. Support for symphonic music, opera, theatre, and dance, which are a precious and fragile part of our cultural heritage, is first and foremost the responsibility of national, regional, and local governments. In the audiovisual field, public broadcasters must be accorded adequate and sustainable funding, to guarantee their economic, creative, and editorial independence, and media pluralism. Member States and the European Union must promote the adoption of specific support measures that will enable the development of a strong and diversified film industry.

Europe devotes less than 0.5% of its budget to culture. We believe that real cultural ambition will play a vital role in giving meaning to the construction of Europe, as well as valorizing a cultural heritage that forms part of European identity and EU’s place in the world.

Download in PDF