Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Bertolucci, Benigni sign petition for trade exemption

English
© ANSA

(By Sandra Cordon)
Rome, June 4 - From film stars and directors like
Roberto Benigni and Bernardo Bertolucci, to television networks,
unions and business groups, the cry is rising for the Italian
government to protect its domestic media industry.
More than 100 big names and organizations signed a petition
presented Tuesday to Premier Enrico Letta, calling for continued
support and a reprieve from feared cuts to cultural subsidies
which could follow a free-trade pact between Europe and the
United States.
Given the US domination of the global entertainment
industry, the Italian petitioners say they fear for the survival
of the domestic industry and the survival of national cultural
institutions.
"Italy is, together with other European countries, in
favour of excluding the culture and audiovisual (industries)
from commercial treaties between the EU and the US," said the
petition.
At the core of the conflict are subsidies awarded by
government to help cultural industries flourish in a sector
where major American firms dominate.
But now, the fear is that subsidies will be slashed in a
free-trade deal between the US and the EU.
In such pacts, negotiators often demand a so-called "level
playing field" which usually translates as slashing government
support for any relevant economic sector.
That cannot be allowed, said the petition, urging the
government to ensure Italy's cultural sector is exempt from such
cuts.
Cultural exceptions, first introduced by France to treat
culture differently from other merchandise, aim at curbing the
American film industry's dominance in European markets.
The petitioners' concerns arise from the EU-US
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which
appeared in draft form earlier this year but made no mention of
the cultural exception.
Negotiations on the accord are scheduled to begin by
summer.
More broadly, they also fear the "liberalization" of
cultural industries - essentially, treating culture like any
other commodity that can be bought and sold.
Such treatment will not only destroy culture, but also
undermine the Italian economy by moving any profits - and
taxable revenues - offshore.
In the growing virtual marketplace, say the petition
signatories, many companies operating in the cultural sector
have no real corporate home or ties to any particular country.
These firms "do not invest in networks and content nor the
territories..(they) do not create value, or value added, or
generate taxable revenue," said the petition.
Others to sign the Italian petition included Oscar-winning
filmmakers Giuseppe Tornatore and Gabriele Salvatores, as well
as State broadcaster RAI, former premier Silvio Berlusconi's
Mediaset media giant, and the powerful Confindustria business
confederation.
The petition will be presented to the European Parliament,
with its 27 member states, on June 14.
The Italian petition is similar to movements in other
European countries.
As well, a similar document was circulated at the recent
Cannes international film festival, and signed by such
filmmakers Michael Haneke, Michel Hazanavicius, Catherine
Breillat, Costa Gavras, Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh and Ken
Loach, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and Aki Kaurismaki.

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