European independent labels lobby group Impala is calling for global measures to ensure that subsidies and quotas can continue for music.

BRUSSELS -- European independent labels lobby group Impala is calling for global measures to ensure that subsidies and quotas can continue for music.

The Brussels-based trade body has appealed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- which is currently drafting a convention on cultural diversity -- to guarantee that governments can continue limiting foreign music content.

In a statement issued jointly with the European Film Companies Alliance, Impala on Feb. 7 called for the draft UNESCO convention "to introduce key changes to the text to promote independent cultural industries."

France, Canada and Australia are among the key markets which have programming guidelines in place to regulate the amount of local content broadcast on radio. Advocates argue that quota systems greatly benefit local artists and in turn strengthen the national market.

Since October 2003, UNESCO's 190 members have been working on the draft, provisionally called the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expression. It is aimed at promoting cultural diversity by recognizing that everyone profits from the free flow of ideas, words and images.

Led by France and Canada, most countries are asserting the right of governments to safeguard, promote and even protect their cultures from outside competition. However, a smaller group led by the United States argues that cultural diversity would best flourish in the freedom of the globalized economy.

In its statement, Impala said it would be unfair for governments to treat music on a free-market basis like other products or services. "Existing market structures simply do not ensure a level playing field, thereby marginalizing the independents, endangering the plurality of cultural operators, reducing investment in new and diverse talent and undermining local cultures and creators," Impala said.

The draft is expected to be approved by consensus this fall.

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