French minister of culture Frédéric Mitterrand unveiled a set of measures aimed at helping the music industry, during a press conference at the MIDEM trade fair and conference in Cannes.

These measures are based on a controversial report submitted two weeks ago resulting from a mission led by Patrick Zelnik, CEO of French independent label Naïve.

While he praised improving results for the French music market - with a softening decline in sales to be detailed in trade body Snep's press conference tomorrow - Mitterrand emphasized the need to act fast, as the French "cultural exception" (the concept that French culture should be protected) has already been damaged.

Although the proposal is fiercely denounced by most of the recording industry, Mitterrand confirmed the music sector had a year to agree on a "possible" collective licensing scheme for online music, as previously announced by President Sarkozy.

When asked by Billboard.biz about the meaning of the word "possible," he then stated his determination to end up with a collective licensing scheme, otherwise, he added, the "possibility" will turn out to be an "obligation".

"I know this [measure] arouses opposition," he said, "but it is necessary to work altogether as fast as we can to permit a richer online offer."

When the French government set out to help the industry by tackling piracy, it also made clear it wanted the biz to embrace measures to make digital licensing simpler, in order to boost the market.

Mitterrand announced that Emmanuel Hoog, a former president of national audiovisual institute INA, had been appointed as a mediator on this issue. He said he would do his best for other European countries to follow on this and said the topic would be discussed in a March meeting.

Regarding the "youth card" recommended by the Zelnik mission, he said it should be available by this summer. This card is designed to help young consumers access legal music online by subsidizing a-la-carte download and subscription services; he envisaged that the card should be sold for €25 ($35) and worth €50 ($71) in retail spend, although he said the financial compensation mechanism remained to be defined.

Mitterrand also announced he would look at ways to improve the music exposure on TV and radio, and that he would strongly advocate a lowered VAT rate (sales tax) on cultural goods to the European Commission.

Asked about the "Google tax" suggested by Zelnik, which would target advertising revenues from online giants such as Google to support the creative industries hit by the digital revolution, Mitterrand said nothing was decided at this point.