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News on digitalization worldwide
by Elisabetta Brunella

ITALY: regional support for digitalization

With the start of 2014 the Region of Basilicata moved towards the so-called "switch-off" of analogical film by investing one million euros in the digital conversion of cinemas now in operation or having operated for five years between 1997-2013.
The contribution can cover up to 50% of eligible costs, up to a maximum of 50 000 euros.
In publishing the call for applications relating to the digitalization of film theatres, it was the Region's intention to offer support to the audiovisual sector in order to consolidate and aid the qualitative development of business enterprises. The measure is accompanied by initiatives on media education, providing incentives for production and for the circulation, conservation and consumption of film heritage.
When presenting the measures, the President of the Region emphasized the fact that they are a response to the need to prevent the closure of cinemas which should, on the contrary, become venues for the promotion, enjoyment and study of audiovisual works.

In the framework of the regional operational programme Por-Fesr, Liguria has set up measures to facilitate the shift to digital projection in small and medium-sized cinemas. The contribution can cover up to 60% of eligible costs which must not, however, come to above 200 thousand euros.
By means of this intervention, in which the call for applications was published at the end of March, the Region intends influencing the modes of programming in movie theatres, which will be able to make use of technological innovation in order to diversify their offer to include concerts, live sports events and theatrical and music performances.

In March the Piedmont Region approved a call for applications regarding the allocation of one and a half million euros for small and medium-sized businesses intending to update industrial or parish cinemas by purchasing installations for 2K or 4K digital screening, as well as technological equipment to support it, such as internet connections, audio and energy-saving systems.

The Region of Sicily has signed the decree on financing assigning three million euros for the technological and digital updating of movie theatres. 60 screens qualify for this type of intervention.


Survey on the advantages of digital projection
It is no easy task to take stock of digital conversion from the perspective of the cinemas. The French trade magazine Côté Cinéma has attempted to do so in collaboration with Médiametrie, launching a survey to which a little under 500 exhibitors replied voluntarily, 58% of whom represented at least 8 screens each, 63% were not linked to national circuits and 72% were situated outside Paris and its outskirts.
From this initiative, it emerges that the main advantage for medium-sized and larger exhibitors lies in flexibility of programming. For small exhibitors this aspect comes in second place, after the quality of the screening. Comments on the opportunities offered by added content are of a more varied nature; added content is appreciated mostly by medium and large exhibitors, who quote it as the third advantage, after flexibility and quality of projection.
From the point of view of diversification of offer, small exhibitors seem to prefer focusing on arthouse films: together with the theatres in the city of Paris, they declare that they have increased the programming of these films.

Globecast delivers digital content to the VEO circuit
VEO, the programming group that comprises 220 French arthouse cinemas situated in small or medium-sized towns throughout the country, has chosen Globecast Cinema Delivery, a sister company of Orange, to deliver its digital content. This allows the dispatch of digital copies to the circuit as a whole to be carried out in the same way, avoiding the need for members themselves to deal with obtaining content. The commercial negotiations with distributors will, of course, continue to be managed by VEO.
Thanks to this agreement, the number of cinemas to which Globecast delivers digital content in France has risen to 750.

Movie theatres belonging to the cultural circuit also shift to digital
If commercial cinemas in France are now fully digital, the circuit of cinemas in cultural centres, which constitutes a network for spreading French culture abroad, will now also be changing over to the new technology. This was announced by the Minister of Culture and the Secretary of State at the latest Cannes Festival.