Malta’s cultural policy calls for the need to improve and extend the use of IT tools in cultural management and in the dissemination of knowledge, including the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material, through synergies with IT stakeholders. Investment in national audiovisual heritage, whether it is publicly broadcasted material of historical and cultural value, film heritage or other audiovisual material held publicly and privately, shall ensure that national archival digitisation and accessibility needs are addressed. The initiatives detailed above must be implemented within the structuring framework of a strategy for the sector, taking into account the contributions of key stakeholders such as Malta Enterprise, the Malta Film Commission, public and private broadcasters, and audiovisual companies, and based on the legislative framework of the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
In 2009, St. James Cavalier launched the first live screening from the Royal Opera House, followed by a season from the Met and the National Theatre (UK). Private cinemas are now also screening live opera and ballet from Covent Garden.
Digitisation was a major concern for Maltese cinema exhibitors with film distributors opting for exclusive digital distribution in 2013. Out of 37 screens only 5 were digital and significant investment was required for the digitisation process. In 2013, government announced a cinema digitisation scheme with an investment of EUR 500 000 to support the digitisation of 25 screens in Malta and Gozo.
Private entrepreneurs have entered the cultural sector by providing support for and initiating high-tech multi-media projects, many of which are targeted at tourists. Moreover, Malta’s unique Hypogeum (a prehistoric underground burial site) has been installed with digital technology to protect it environmentally.
The Malta Centre for Restoration has introduced conservation schemes, which include the use of new technologies to combine cost-effective project management in science with the latest documentation techniques.
According to internetworldstats.com, Malta has 240 600 Internet users as of June/10, 58.9% penetration, per ITU with 189 900 Facebook users on June 30/11, 46.5% penetration rate.
Government is actively pursuing the adoption of Open Source Software (OSS) that is cost-effective and non-disruptive. Malta transposed the new set of telecommunications rules and implemented its digital switchover in TV, as part of Europe-wide process to better manage wireless frequencies. Malta was one of just nine EU member states that carried out the transposition of the new telecoms package on time and without problems.
E-books are not yet available in public libraries in Malta although all local libraries have been computerised. This means clients can access information through the library website using their library card number to search and renew borrowed books online. Thanks to this system an increase of 23 000 books have been borrowed up to the end of October 2011 when compared with the end of December2010. Since the National Library is now being digitised, manuscripts that are out of copyright, including the archives of the Knights of St John, old newspapers and paragraphs and chapters of certain books can now be read online.
In the 2010 and 2012 National Budgets, government announced numerous fiscal benefits to encourage investments in new technologies (see chapter 4.1.4). In order to stimulate the indigenous growth of local game companies and attract existing professionals to shift from related industries in Budget 2012 Government announced the setting up of the Malta Games Fund with an allocation of EUR 150 000.
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