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EBU urges EU to defend Europe against the US

The European Broadcasting Union says that including TV and film services in upcoming trade negotiations between the EU and the US would damage the industry in Europe.

The EU is about to set the parameters for trade negotiations with the US and the EBU, an association of over 50 public broadcasters, says that the TV industry should be removed from the partnership talks. As well as harming the finances of the industry, including TV in the trade talks would damage cultural diversity within Europe, it said.

“The audiovisual industry should be explicitly excluded from the European Union’s mandate to negotiate a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States,” said Ingrid Deltenre, director general of the EBU.

The EBU cited figures estimating that 4.5% of EU-wide GDP is derived from cultural services and noted that the region wide film and TV market was worth €17 billion, although that figure is based on 2008 data.

Deltenre said: “We need the EU to defend the interests of the European audiovisual sector, and to ensure that the mandate given to the European Commission for negotiating on behalf of the EU takes those interests into account. The ability of the EU and Member States to support and stimulate the audiovisual sector needs to be maintained.”

The EU needs to be explicit in excluding the audiovisual sector from trade talks, according to the EBU, to combat the inherent commercial advantages it says the the US entertainment business has, which include a greater capacity to invest in media and better economies of scale.

The EBU noted an imbalance in the import and export of audiovisual content. It said that in 2010 the EU imported €7.5 billion of US content while just €1.8 billion was exported to the States.

Opening the audiovisual sector to free trade with the US would mean US media companies would be entitled to EU support schemes, but be exempt from regulatory obligations, the EBU added.