“Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow” – and an interesting thought experiment

Below is a posting of mine from Shooting People.

The core of the problem is this: freedom for the pike is
death for the minnow. With regards to feature films the USA is
the pike, and the pike is always looking to find ways of
stuffing more minnows into its maw. Very many countries take
steps to defend at least part of their film industry.
Sometimes these steps involve very large sums of money.
 
For example, the EU spends .75billion euros every five years.
A sizeable chunk of this money goes into supporting the
distribution and exhibition of ‘non-national European films’.

The assumptions behind this are that, all bar one, member
states are not only protected against the ‘pike’ through
language, but also through the imposition of quotas and other
forms of regulation and support. But the pike still has
enormous financial muscle through its ability to already be in
profit through its domestic market. Hence the EU tries to
counter this by encouraging each EU country to also screen
films from its European neighbours. The result is that US
blockbusters still dominate – and why not – but they don’t
when it comes to lower budget films.

But this EU policy works differently in the UK. American
domination is essentially total. The only British films that
get general release are American owned (or occasionally
French; even more rarely as with Slumdog Millionaire,
American/French films). But not only is (actual) British
filmmaking a completely un-protected minnow, it’s also up
against large EU subsidies which further disadvantage it when
it comes to both the arthouse and festival circuits. Pretty
amazing when you think about it, isn’t it, that the Americans
have managed to turn EU policies aimed at curbing their
operations into a means of further cementing their dominance
over here.

And it’s not surprising that the UKFC and the BFI seem quite
happy with all this – just visit the UKFC website and look at
the Chairman and the board of directors. Almost all of them
are either leading executives from the US majors, or the heads
of companies which make much of their earnings from directly
servicing them (the term c*ck-suckers wouldn’t be far off the mark).
>
> I’ll finish with a thought experiment.
>
> Imagine that you live in a country in which 95% of the music
> you hear on the radio (which is 95% US owned – there’s no BBC
> and no ‘public service regulations), or find on the shelves of
> music stores, is American. Most of the rest is not British as
> there are organisations like the ‘British Music Council’ which
> gives lots of money to subsidise non-British music. Outside of
> a handful of little clubs and pubs all live performances are
> by American (plus a few other foreign) bands.
>
> The American-run ‘British Music Council’ is pretty happy with
> this state of affairs because a lot of this American music is
> recorded in fancy recording studios situated in the London
> area; but the ‘British music industry’ would do even better if
> even more tax breaks and subsidies were given to the
> Americans.
>
> The British music industry is not interested in recording and
> releasing British music as it won’t get played, performed, etc
> and so won’t make any money.
>
> Now what would you think of any musician who turned round and
> said to another who was actively campaigning against this
> state of affairs, “get over it, don’t fight it (man) let
> someone else do it (who?), you’ll just do your head in. Hey,
> why don’t we go back to talking about the problems you get
> when you lend people box sets of your (American) CD’s.”
>
> A growing number of us are starting to do something about it.
> Anyone who wants to join in is welcome to contact me directly.
>
> Best wishes Jon Willaims

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