Hollywood hits Europe with Gatt deal

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The Independent Online
THIS IS crunch week for the European film and television industry, as US and European Union negotiators decide whether it can remain subsidised, protected and outside the framework of the Gatt world trade agreement. Negotiators in Geneva today begin thrashing out which subsidies will be allowed.

US movies, soaps and sit-coms which flood the world's airwaves are, at dollars 5.5bn (pounds 3.7bn), the US's second most profitable export after aircraft sales. So the US takes a dim view of Europe's efforts to defend its cinema. The dwindling band of film-makers in the EU have warned that a Gatt deal could result in Hollywood crushing them altogether.

The US has softened demands that subsidies to European cinema and videos be ended. What the US really wants is access to the market in audio-visual technologies: satellite-delivered programmes and products, fibre optics and pay television. When the final horsetrading is done, Europe will probably suffer. There was little real prospect of the Gatt trade deal being blocked to protect an industry that contributes only pounds 186m a year in exports from the EU.