Cultural diversity

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The French Coalition for Cultural Diversity reacts to a decision by the European Court of Justice

On its website, the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity discusses a recent decision by the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEC), which it describes as “respectful of the diversity of cultural expressions.” The full text is reprinted below.

“With its March 5 decree, the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEC) has adopted a vision that is respectful of the diversity of cultural expressions. Addressed by the Spanish judge, the Court was asked to determine the validity of regulations obliging 5% of all television revenue to be invested into funding European films and made-for-TV movies and to set aside 60% of that 5% for original work in Spanish. The CJEC found the system—which was opposed by private TV in Spain—to be perfectly in keeping with the "Television Without Borders," guidelines which contain no stipulations on that specific aspect of funding productions and even allow members states to create more specific or stricter legislation in the fields covered. The judge went even further, stating that while the stipulation regarding the obligation of investing in Spanish-language work infringes on the 4 great freedoms of the domestic market, the promotion of linguistic diversity is an urgent and compelling reason of common interest that justifies such a violation. It should be noted that this marks the first time the CJEC has referred to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Expression of Cultural Diversity, stating that "linguistic diversity is a fundamental aspect of cultural diversity" and that it shouldn’t be considered apart from other cultural criteria to . . . justify the restriction of one of the fundamental freedoms of the Treaty. The judge has demonstrated a broad vision of culture, successfully challenging the idea held by the commission, which—in keeping with its tradition of very strictly controlling state funding to films—was claiming that criteria had to be set to ensure that funding would only go to "cultural products."