The French minister of culture and communication has expressed support for the music industry's campaign to promote legal downloads, and urged labels to release more repertoire online.

The French minister of culture and communication has expressed support for the music industry's campaign to promote legal downloads, and urged labels to release more repertoire online.

Speaking at the MIDEM trade conference today (Jan. 23), minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said anti-piracy initiatives help "fight the myth that music online should be free. Internet is a market and artists must be paid."

His comments come after the French industry launched an artist-fronted €1 million ($1.30 million) billboard campaign inviting consumers to "Download us legally" last week.

He hopes that 1 million titles will be available for digital distribution by the year's end. The figure currently stands at about 800,000 tracks.

Also during the address, Donnedieu de Vabres unveiled a series of measures and initiatives for the months to come. Reacting to a complaint that French TV featured too little music, he said he would ensure that public broadcasters ramp-up their music agendas. He also stated that private and public broadcasters are currently in talks with the music sector on boosting the volume of music played on radio and TV, and a code of good behavior is in the works.

Donnedieu de Vabres recently allocated an extra fund of €15 million ($19.55 million) to the public broadcasting sector for the production of arts programs, of which music will play an important part.

He also said he would set up an investment fund to support indies, details for which have not been revealed. This follows the French indie label body UPFI's Jan. 17 request for a financial support program.

UPFI president Stephan Bourdoiseau tells Billboard.biz that the fund "falls short of our needs. We have a coherent program that we estimated at €15 million and that's what we want to achieve." The proposed package includes funding, tax breaks and various incentives.

Donnedieu de Vabres and UPFI are due to meet tomorrow (Jan. 24) in Cannes to discuss these proposals.