Europe’s media industry has faced a significant challenge in the digital decade, with traditional business models being disrupted by the rise of digital technology and the shift to online content consumption. The pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges, as advertising revenues have declined, and media companies have struggled to adapt to the new reality.
However, there is hope for the future, as the European Commission has unveiled the Media and Audiovisual action plan to support the recovery and transformation of Europe’s media industry. The plan is a comprehensive approach aimed at supporting the media sector’s transition to the digital age, ensuring that media companies can thrive in the new media landscape. The key elements of the plan include measures for recovery, transformation, and enabling and empowering.
The first pillar of the plan is to aid the sector’s recovery, assisting audiovisual and media organisations. The aim is to provide financial stability and liquidity by offering a user-friendly tool that will guide European audiovisual and news media companies on available sources of EU aid. Additionally, increasing investment in the European audiovisual industry to support production and distribution by enhancing equity investments.
Furthermore, introducing the ‘NEWS’ initiative will bring together various measures and support for the news media sector. This first pillar of action will ensure that citizens are equipped to navigate the complex and rapidly evolving digital media landscape.
The second pillar is transformation. To tackle structural challenges and support the media industry in embracing the green and digital transitions, while facing intense global competition, the European Commission has several initiatives in place.
These include establishing a European media data space to enable media companies to collaborate on data and innovate; promoting a European coalition for virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to allow EU media to leverage the benefits of immersive media; and working towards making the industry climate neutral by 2050 by facilitating the sharing of best practices and placing a greater emphasis on environmental sustainability in the Creative Europe MEDIA program.
Finally, the third pillar of the plan is to enable and empower. The goal is to foster innovation in the media sector, promote fair competition, and empower citizens to access content and make informed decisions.
To achieve this, the European Commission will be taking the following actions: engaging in a dialogue with the audiovisual industry to determine concrete steps to enhance access to and availability of audiovisual content throughout the EU; investing in European media talent through mentorship, training, and supporting promising European media start-ups; improving media literacy by providing a toolbox and guidelines for member states to fulfil their media literacy obligations under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and supporting the development of independent alternative news aggregation services that offer a diverse range of accessible information sources; and strengthening the cooperation among European media regulators through the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA).
This last pillar will include measures such as tax relief, subsidies, and financial guarantees, which will help to ensure that media companies can continue to operate and invest in the future.
In conclusion, the European Commission’s action plan for Europe’s media industry is a significant step forward in supporting the sector’s recovery and transformation. It provides a comprehensive approach to address the challenges posed by the digital age, and ensures that media companies, particularly SMEs, have the resources they need to thrive in the new media landscape. The plan is a positive sign for the future of Europe’s media industry, and significant progress is expected in the years to come.