U.S.-Europe trade pact uncertain if French film industry not protected

June 14, 2013 at 3:39 PM
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PARIS, June 14 (UPI) -- France says it will scuttle a huge trade agreement between the United States and European countries if it doesn't receive an exemption for its film industry.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is seen as the cornerstone of job creation and economic growth, but the French want their movies and digital media exempted, The Christian Science Monitor reported Friday.

Without the "exception culterelle," France feels its culture could be subverted by the philosophies of Hollywood. France requires that 40 percent of what is shown on television be produced within its borders. American programming has low priority.

The United States and the European Commission have resisted French demands out of concern allowing the exemption will open the agreement to a flood of other country-specific exceptions.

France has received support for its cultural exception from filmmakers around the continent, France 24 reported. Directors from Belgium, Denmark, Spain and Britain added their names to a petition presented to the European Parliament early this week.

"Culture is not merchandise," said French film star Berenice Bejo, reading a letter addressed to Parliament members by German director Wim Winders. "You can't put it in the same category as cars, lamps, or screws or bolts."

American filmmaker Steven Spielberg also supports the exception. He called it "the best way to support diversity in filmmaking" in remarks delivered last month in closing ceremonies at Cannes.

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