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Media II (1996-2000): programme encouraging the development and distribution of European audiovisual works

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Media II (1996-2000): programme encouraging the development and distribution of European audiovisual works

The aim of the MEDIA II programme is to support the European Union's audiovisual industry with a view to promoting the production and distribution of European audiovisual works. The underlying objective is to prevent the European market from being dominated by imported programmes, particularly from the USA.

The programme, which runs from 1 January 1996 to 31 December 2000, follows on from the MEDIA programme (1991-1995).

It consists of two strands: development and distribution of European audiovisual works; training of those working in the audiovisual industry (Media II Training).

The MEDIA II - Development and Distribution strand, described below, is designed to promote the development of production projects and the circulation of European films and television programmes both within and outside the European Union (EU).


Council Decision 95/563/EC of 10 July 1995 on the implementation of a programme encouraging the development and distribution of European audiovisual works (Media II - Development and distribution) (1996-2000)


With a view to continuing the action undertaken by the MEDIA programme, which aimed to encourage the development and distribution of European audiovisual works during a five-year period (1991-95), the Commission has adopted a new programme (MEDIA II) to strengthen the European programme industry, covering the period from 1 January 1996 to 31 December 2000.

The objectives of the programme are:

  • to encourage an environment favourable to initiative and to the development of companies (particularly SMEs) by providing financial and technical assistance;
  • to promote the development of production projects;
  • to strengthen the European distribution sector in the field of cinema and video by promoting networking among European distributors and encouraging them to invest in the production of European cinema films;
  • to promote wider transnational distribution of European films;
  • to actively support linguistic diversity of audiovisual and cinema works;
  • to promote independent productions in Europe and allow them greater access to the market by implementing promotion measures.

These objectives are intended, more generally, to:

  • enhance the competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry;
  • highlight the European audiovisual heritage;
  • develop the potential of countries or regions with a low audiovisual production capacity and/or with a limited geographic and linguistic area;
  • provide assistance to independent production and distribution companies, particularly SMEs.

Community funding will cover 50% of the cost of operations, which means that those receiving Community assistance must cover a significant percentage of the project's funding.

The reference amount for implementation of the programme is ECU 310 million.

In addition to the Member States of the European Union, MEDIA II will be open to countries that have concluded cooperation agreements containing audiovisual clauses and to countries that are members of the European Economic Area (EEA).

After two years and six months of implementation of the programme, the Commission will present an evaluation report to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee, accompanied, if necessary, by proposals for adjustment.

MEDIA II will last five years (1996-2000).



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 95/563/EC [adoption: consultation procedure CNS/1995/0027]



OJ L 321 of 30.12.1995



Report from the Commission, of 18 December 2003, on the implementation and results of the MEDIA II programme (1996-2000) [COM(2003) 802 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

The report evaluates the impact of the MEDIA II programme on Europe's audiovisual sector as a whole and, more specifically, on the various targeted areas (Distribution, Development, Training).

Overall impact: MEDIA II aid represented only 0.51% of the European audiovisual sector's economic weight overall, although this proportion was higher (average 0.80%) in the countries with low production output and exceeded 1% in Greece, Belgium and Luxembourg. The assistance awarded by the programme had a substantial knock-on effect, although this is difficult to quantify precisely. The MEDIA II mid-term evaluation concluded that each Community euro invested under the programme had generated EUR 5.75 of investment in the industry. This multiplier coefficient was higher in the distribution sector and, to a lesser degree, in the development sector.

Impact of the Distribution strand: MEDIA II provided funding of EUR 62 million to support cinema distribution, or EUR 32 000 on average per film. The number of project applications submitted each year rose by 60% between 1996 and 2000, evidence that the support mechanism was found extremely attractive, both in design and in the amounts allocated.

As for MEDIA II's impact on circulation, the number of European films distributed outside their national territory doubled over the lifetime of the programme, from 246 in 1996 to 499 in 2000. In 1999, MEDIA II, compared with 64% in 2000, had supported 62% of these films.

However, MEDIA II did not have the expected impact in terms of the creation of stable networks between European distributors, as this is a medium/long-term objective that cannot be achieved in the five-year period of the programme. This difficulty can be attributed to a strong reluctance on the part of independent distributors to group together.

With regard to support for the television broadcasting of non-national European works, 362 projects received a total of EUR 39 million in funding. Of the projects supported, 65% were documentaries. MEDIA II funding also had an important leverage effect, in enabling independent producers to complete the financial package for international co-productions for which they had already assembled 75% of the funds. The producers allocated support for television broadcasting were mainly concentrated in a small number of countries (France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom). This was due to the independence criterion imposed, because practices in terms of ownership of rights by broadcasters are very different from one country to another.

As for support for promotion, 64 festivals and 50 trade events and markets received assistance totalling EUR 19 million.

Impact of the Development strand: In all, 1 178 different companies were awarded development support, covering a total of 1 714 projects. The total amount of MEDIA II aid awarded was close to EUR 51 million, averaging EUR 30 000 per project. Works of fiction were best represented, followed by documentaries.

The new mechanism to support the development of packages of projects (Slate Funding) was introduced in 1999. It allowed independent European production companies to be allocated a budget for the development of project packages. Over the period 1999-2000, 99 catalogues were selected, with an average amount of EUR125 000. A total of 400 projects received assistance.

Between 1996 and 2000, 186 companies received assistance under this support mechanism.

On the whole, project development aid enabled producers to test their concepts and not to produce projects of dubious potential as regards feasibility or profitability. The economic impact of this aid on investment levels is, however, difficult to quantify. However the mechanism seems to have been particularly useful for medium-sized producers, enabling them to increase their volume of investment and improve their companies' financial situations. For small producers, it provided an alternative to costly bank finance.

Implementing measures

Information 98/C 71/08 - Official Journal C 71 of 07.03.1998

Media II (1996-2000)

Implementation of a programme encouraging the development and distribution of European audiovisual works. Notice of appeal to propositions 6/98. "Automatic" support to the transnational distribution of European films.

Information 98/C 171/08 - Official Journal C 171 of 05.06.1998

Implementation of a programme encouraging the development and distribution of European audiovisual works. Appeal to propositions 7/98 "Aid to development of multimedia projects".

Information 1999/C 34/08 - Official Journal C 34 of 09.02.1999

Implementation of a programme encouraging the development and distribution of European audiovisual works - Call for proposals 7/99 - Support for the development of production projects and production companies

Last updated: 20.04.2004