EBU disappointed at first MEDIA calls for proposals 2022


On 3 February the European Commission announced the launch of the first calls for proposals to support audiovisual industry in the framework of the Creative Europe programme MEDIA strand for 2022. We find them disappointing from the perspective of our campaign, since 2020, calling the Commission to use the leverage of the MEDIA funding to promote good practices within the film industry in terms of making films accessible for persons with disabilities, in particular with audio description and audio subtitling.

In December 2020 we had welcomed that the new Creative Europe Regulation for 2021-2030 now includes a general clause stating that the programme’s objectives are pursued in a way that encourages (inter alia) inclusion and, where appropriate, through specific incentives that ensure access to culture for people with disabilities (among other groups at risk of social exclusion and marginalisation). This reflected in the very first MEDIA calls for proposals in 2021, with the statement that “special attention will be given to applications presenting adequate strategies to ensure gender balance, inclusion, diversity and representativeness” and the 5% weighting given to this criterion among all award criteria.

Since then, the EU Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 was published, which raised our hopes. The section “Improving access to art and culture, recreation, leisure, sport, and tourism” says that the European Commission “will strive to make cultural heritage and all art accessible and disability inclusive with support from EU funding such as the Creative Europe Programme.”

Now looking at the first five MEDIA calls for proposals in 2022, we are disappointed to see that the ambitions declared in the Disability Rights Strategy have not materialised

  • Where applicable, the single and specific weight of inclusion (let alone for persons with disabilities), among other award criteria, remains unknown, while the overall weight of inclusion among other social criteria remains a mere 5%.
  • Disability is not mentioned in the specific themes, objectives or priorities of any of the calls. Audio description as such is mentioned in only two of the 5 calls: “Films on the Move” and “European Film Distribution”.
  • There is no mention of disability, let alone audio description and audio sub-titling, in the objectives of the “MEDIA 360°” call, despite its wide scope across the board of the value chain (including TV, VOD etc.). Inclusion is not even mentioned in the specific objectives of the “Network of European Festivals” call.

EBU calls on the European Commission to place greater emphasis on the provision of audio description and audio subtitling in future calls, and will monitor progress closely.