The European Investment Bank (EIB) announces a EUR 5.5 million loan to the ARTE television channel for expanding the technical and production facilities at its new headquarters in Strasbourg.

The finance contracts were signed today in Strasbourg by Mr Francis Mayer, EIB Vice-President, and Mr Jobst Plog and Mr Jérôme Clément, respectively Chairman and Vice-Chairman of ARTE.

This EIB loan will underpin ARTE's investment aimed at keeping pace with technological developments in traditional and digital broadcasting of television programmes. It will also serve to finance the installation of two production studios.

To be implemented by end-2003, this investment will boost ARTE’s position in a highly competitive audiovisual sector, enabling it to perform in full its remit of supporting European production and broadcasting high quality cultural or educational programmes designed to promote European integration.

The Bank is advancing this loan to ARTE under its Innovation 2000 Initiative (i2i), set up by the EIB Group to bolster the development of a knowledge-based, innovation-led European economy. The audiovisual sector – and multimedia content production and broadcasting technologies in general – have been included in Audiovisual i2i since December 2000.

To date, EIB Group support for the audiovisual sector runs to EUR 690 million. This includes financing for new production facilities and equipment for television channels (Retevision, Danmarks Radio, ARTE); assistance for audiovisual production in France (Coficiné and Cofiloisir) and the United Kingdom (BBC Worldwide); and special purpose global loans (credit lines) for multimedia production by SMEs in Spain (ICF) and Italy (BNL). i2i also encompasses the acquisition of equity participations by the EIF - the EIB Group’s specialist subsidiary - in venture capital funds focusing on the content and multimedia industries or cutting-edge SMEs in the audiovisual sector.