LONDON -- The European Parliament has approved the European Commission's new Creative Europe program, which will replace the MEDIA and Culture programs, and has a budget that is 9% higher than the current level -- an increase of €1.46 billion ($1.98 billion) over the next seven years.

Creative Europe includes a Culture sub-program, supporting performing and visual arts, heritage and other areas, and a MEDIA sub-program, which will provide funding for the cinema and audiovisual sector.

New actions for the MEDIA sub-program include support for international co-production funds, video games and audience development, but no radical changes have been proposed. The main funding priorities continue to be training, development, TV programming, distribution, access to markets and festivals.

The program will allocate at least 56% of its budget for the MEDIA sub-program and at least 31% for the Culture sub-program. This broadly reflects the share of funding that the two areas currently receive. A maximum of 13% of the budget will be allocated to new cross-sectoral strand, including the financing facility.

The final approval for the Creative Europe program is a great relief for those in the European film and TV industries.

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the British Film Institute, said: "Creative Europe's approval is a clear and very welcome recognition from the European Parliament of the importance of the creative industries to the wider economy and its major contribution to the growth agenda of Europe and the U.K. It is more important than ever that culture is supported and I applaud the European Union's financial commitment over the next seven years for the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors. I wholeheartedly agree with President Barroso's assertion that culture is not a 'nice to have' but a 'need to have'."

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