The European Parliament has voted in favour of a new programme to promote the European digital content market, setting it a budget of €149m (~$194m, ~£103m) for the next three years.
The eContentplus programme aims to tackle the fragmentation of the European digital content market by supporting the development of multi-lingual content for innovative, online services.
“The internet offers a unique opportunity for content companies to outgrow their so far mostly national markets”, said Viviane Reding, the Commissioner responsible for Information Society and Media.
“The eContentplus programme will facilitate the production and distribution of online European content, thus stimulating innovation and creativity. At the same time it will help to preserve and share Europe’s cultural and linguistic identities and give them a more prominent place on the Internet,” Reding added.
The European Parliament voted in favour of the programme with only one amendment, which sets the budget of the programme at €149m for the period 2005-2008. Reding said the new budget was a substantial increase in comparison to the previous programme.
The eContentplus programme will concentrate on the parts of the digital content market where there is clear fragmentation in Europe, and where market forces have not been enough to drive growth.
It targets three areas – spatial or geographical data, educational material and cultural content.
In the case of geographical data such as post codes, planning and land registration details, fragmentation occurs because different member states collect and store data in different ways.
If the programme can reduce this fragmentation, it can open the way for new EU-wide information services using this data in areas such as transportation, navigation, emergency response and environmental management.
The eContentplus programme is part of a set of measures to boost innovation and creativity in the converging content market, including the MEDIAplus programme, and the modernisation of the Television Without Frontiers Directive, due later this year.