Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Diversité culturelle et cinéma :une vision pour un pays en voie de développement

Christophe Germann, 10 juin 2003 –2003/06/10

“Are audiovisual products simple goods as the United States says they are, or is there something unique about them that would prevent their being bound by common free trade rules? What are the mechanisms states use to intervene in support of cultural diversity in film to stave off market imbalances and thereby avoid the risk of harmful uniformity?” In this text presented at an international conference at the University of Lucerne under the theme “International Trade and Cultural Diversity,” Mr. Christophe Germann provides answers by examining one-by-one the ties between international trade, marketing, and cultural diversity. Affirming that “the impact of WTO rules on state measures for promoting cultural diversity in film through subsidies and quota systems is currently one of the major problems with standards-based globalization,” Mr. Germann asks that we “denounce the cultural discrimination practiced by the giants of the ‘cultural industries’ that dominate the market.” Stating that market forces have up to now neither preserved nor encouraged cultural diversity in the audiovisual sector, the author counsels an approach aimed at developing a “world culture” based on respect for the diversity of cultural groups and calls on us to “force states to ban cultural discrimination.” To this end, he suggests exploring complementary courses and alternatives to the classical instruments of subsidies and quotas in order to promote cultural diversity in film in a lasting manner. According to him, there is a need to coordinate the applicable laws and policies at a national, regional, and global level to give expression to cultural diversity. In this regard, states that advocate cultural diversity in film should work together to lay out an agreement that regulates the cultural sector specifically. In Mr. Germann’s opinion, such an agreement should safeguard against abuses by market leaders that threaten cultural diversity in the audiovisual sector. (Available in French only)