A negative picture for the cinema industry in Italy emerges with 11 less films made in 2012 compared to 2011, with attendance decreasing by 10% and box office income down 8%. To cope with this situation tax credit for the production of films has been renewed and made permanent, with an yearly allocation of 90 million EUR from 2015 on.
4.2.3 Cultural/creative industries: policies and programmes
Although there is no official definition of cultural industries in Italy, what is generally understood under this term are those cultural goods and services which can be "technically reproduced" (Walter Benjamin), or "industrially produced and commercially sold" (Edgar Morin): books, the press, radio- television, cinema, recorded music, and the new media.
On the other hand, it is worth noting that the enlarged term creative industries - extended to other highly creative contiguousindustrial sectors, like fashion, gastronomy, advertising…- has not been in common use in Italy, as it has been in the Anglo Saxon world, until recently. Only in 2007, an ad hoc Study Commission was entrusted by the Minister for Heritage, Rutelli, to elaborate a report on the issue of "creativity and cultural production in Italy". The report Libro bianco sulla creatività. Per un modello italiano di sviluppo, edited by the cultural economist Walter Santagata – an extensive survey on the issue of "creative industries" in Italy, completed with proposals for action (see chapter 9.1) – was published in 2009.
For the Italian cultural industries as understood under the above mentioned more limited and traditional meaning, the 1990s had been a problematic and challenging period: compared with the then positive economic and financial trends in the heritage field and in artistic and cultural activities, the development trend in the cultural industries lagged behind (Rapporto sull' economia della cultura in Italia 1990-2000). The situation got even worst in the 2000s, when overall stagnation in household expenditure was matched first by a slower growth, and later by a drop in advertising income.
The decline in the available financial resources especially affected the press: an industry heavily dependent on state subsidies in Italy, according to legislation adopted since 1981 (see chapter 5.3.7). As Italians, since then, read and buy less and less newspapers (112 paying copies for every 1000 inhabitants in 2007, well below the European average…), a loss of about 26% in income from sales between 2004 and 2008 could not be compensated by the declining advertising income, in a country where most of the financial revenue from advertising is drawn by television networks. This ongoing situation of market failure called for an increased state support for the press: from 439 million EUR in 2000 to a peak of 506 million in 2007 (+15%). More recently, though, state subsidies – heavily affected by the current financial constraints – progressively fell to 377 million EUR in 2009, to 279 million in 2012, and to only 151 million for 2013, less than one third of the subsidies granted in 2007. Coupled with heavy losses in advertising and in sales income, according to an AGCOM Report 2012, the overall loss of revenue in press publishing nearly reached one billion EUR in 2012, -14% compared with the previous year.
Future prospects – linked to a reform of the state subsidy system to the press which should take place since 2014 (see chapter 5.3.7) – are so grim for a publishing industry already under strain, that several newspapers and periodicals may not be able to survive.
In contrast, the Italian film industry – which had also suffered a negative downturn around the mid-1990s, when the yearly production of films fell from more than 200 in the 1970s to the unprecedented low level of only 77 films in 1995 – has fared much better in the first decade of the 2000s. Such progress was initially due to the belated implementation of an important regulatory measure, Law 122/1996, which provided for reallocation of part of the financial resources collected by major television companies - no less than 20% of license fee revenues for RAI, or 10% of advertising revenues for national commercial networks (Mediaset) – to the production and acquisition of Italian and European films and audiovisual programmes. Later on, Italian film production has further benefited from innovative fiscal measures such as tax credits and tax shelters set up following the 2009 legislation (see chapter 5.3.6). Notwithstanding decreasing direct state contributions, these measures, fostering indirect support to the cinema industry, have given a strong boost to new production of films and TV programmes, thus providing a stimulus for a new generation of film makers (Sorrentino, Garrone, etc.) as well as actors.
If, notwithstanding the economic crisis hitting the country, all the indicators for 2010 were still surprisingly positive, the situation has been much less clear-cut for 2011, with data characterised by significant ups and downs. It is in 2012, though, that the aftermath of the financial downturn – with the related cuts in public subsidies, along with the drop in citizens' willingness to pay for going out – hit the cinema industry the hardest. According to ANICA (the Italian Association of Cinema Industries) data are, in fact, unanimously negative. The production of Italia film went down to 166 units in 2012: 11 less than in 2011. Cinema attendance decreased by 10% to only 91 310 000 tickets sold, whereas box office income dropped to 609 million EUR: - 8%. Consequently, even the once quite positive market share of Italian films went down: 26% against 37% in the previous year. As unofficial data continue to be quite negative also for the first semester of 2013, employment in the film industry is slowing down as well.
Such a decline in a valuable national asset like our film industry, also affected both by further cuts to FUS and by the threat not to renew the existing tax incentives to the productions of films, provided for by Law 244/2007 (see chapter 5.3.6) and expiring after 2013, has been causing much concern in the cinema industry. The adoption, in August, of Leg Decree n.91/2013 – whose article 8 not only confirmed the existing tax credit measures, but transformed them from temporarily to permanent –was thus greeted with much relief. The related budgetary allocation has been established at 45 million EUR for 2014, and at 90 million since 2015. The same Decree delegates the Minister to reform the criteria for the allocation of state subsidies to cinema, by improving their transparency and effectiveness (art. 9).
Furthermore, another important recent action in support of the export of Italian films has also been enforced in July 2013, providing for an extraordinary joint effort of the state administration – represented by MiBAC's Istituto Luce Cinecittà and by ICE / Istituto per il Commercio Estero of the Ministry for Economic Development– and of the main private organisations concerned (AGIS, ANICA…) aimed at launching a huge campaign for the promotion of Italian films abroad, in the framework of a wider project for the promotion of "Made in Italy". The export of Italian films – with a share of export revenues at only 0.1% – is considered undeservedly low, mainly due to the lack of adequate promotion and advertising. An investment of 1.1 million EUR has been made available for the project, which is targeted to three main geographical areas: Eastern Asia, South America and the USA, the latter in the framework of the event Italy in the US 2013 (see chapter 3.4.6).