Satellite account for culture and media 2018

APPENDIX 1 What is culture and media?

Explanation of the delineation of culture and media as used in the satellite account for culture and media 2018

The first question that has to be answered when compiling a satellite account is how to define the phenomenon that is to be described, in this case ‘culture and media’. The decision about what does and does not constitute culture and media will influence the extent of the culture and media sector, and thereby also the contribution made by culture and media to the Dutch economy. This appendix therefore further explores the delineation of culture and media and the associated choices made. Before going on to discuss the definition ultimately used in this satellite account for culture and media, the appendix provides some definitions of the concept of culture both from within the Netherlands and internationally, together with some considerations relating to that concept. The perspectives that gave rise to these definitions, together with the classifications that give them functional meaning, were a key guideline for the final definition of culture and media used in the satellite account.

Background: national and international definitions

It is not easy to define, quantify and put into practice a phenomenon like culture. There is a lot of debate at both the national and international level about the question of what should and should not be seen as culture, and about how these elements can then be combined to form meaningful domains.


In principle, a national or international definition should provide the starting point for delineating the concept of culture. UNESCO defines culture as:

‘A set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group, that encompasses, not only art and literature, but lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.’ (UNESCO, 2009, p. 9).

UNESCO decided to take a practical approach in order to make this somewhat abstract definition more functional, since things like lifestyles, traditions and personal convictions are hard to quantify.
The following domains are included in culture:

1. Heritage (including landscape and nature);
2. Performing arts, including festivities;
3. Visual arts, including crafts;
4. Books and press;
5. Audiovisual and interactive media;
6. Design and creative services.

These six core domains of culture are supplemented by the domains of:

7. Education and training;
8. Archiving and conservation;
9. Instruments, materials and support services.

For example, UNESCO considers that the latter group includes various services relating to printing books and reproducing media and interactive media, as well as the production of computer parts and the telecommunications infrastructure. The production of musical instruments, on the other hand, is simply seen as part of the core domain of Performing arts. In addition to tangible heritage, intangible and natural1) heritage is also identified as a separate core domain.

To link this structure to statistical data, UNESCO uses internationally harmonised classifications to translate all these domains into culture-related branches of industry on the one hand, and culture-related goods and services on the other. The ISIC2) system is used internationally to classify businesses by economic activity; the Dutch version of this system is the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC 2008, in Dutch: SBI). The CPA 20083) is the international classification system for goods and services. The end result is a summary of a large number of branches of industry and goods and services, which can then be used to put the concept of culture into practice by linking it to classifications used to compile statistics (for an overview, see also UNESCO, 2009, p. 52 et seq.).

The EU

Another international delineation of the concept of culture is that used in the European Statistical System Network on Culture (ESSnet-Culture, 2012). Although ESSnet does not adopt a specific definition of culture as a starting point, there are certain criteria that culture-related branches of industry and goods and services4) must satisfy, the most important of which are creativity and cultural expression. These criteria are associated with creation according to the ‘nobody knows’ principle,5) values (including mainly intrinsic values and traditions), communication using symbols and a relationship with intellectual property.6) These criteria are also mentioned by UNESCO. However, when using these criteria to put the definition into practice, ESSnet largely restricts itself to UNESCO’s six core domains of culture; intangible heritage is not a separate domain within this structure, but rather part of the domain of heritage. In contrast to UNESCO, ESSnet uses not six but ten core domains:

1. Heritage (including museums, archaeological attractions and intangible heritage);
2. Archives;
3. Libraries;
4. Books and press;
5. Visual arts (including photography and design);
6. Performing arts (including music, dance, drama and other live shows);
7. Audio/audiovisual and multimedia (including film, radio, television, video and multimedia);
8. Architecture (design only, not including construction and production);
9. Advertising (creation only, not including the production);
10. Artisanal and domestic art (‘art crafts’).

ESSnet’s cultural cycle is also slightly different from that of UNESCO. ESSnet’s cycle uses the phases: creation, production (to convert a conceptual good or service into an available good or service), dissemination and trade, preservation, education and management and regulation (businesses and organisations that finance and regulate culture). It should be noted here that ESSnet does not focus explicitly on the economic distribution process of cultural and media products. This means that trade and transport margins are counted as culture and media, not because they are cultural and media products themselves, but because they are indispensable links in the economic distribution chain of cultural and media products; trade brings supply and demand together.

ESSnet also translates the above domains into a summary of culture-related branches of industry based on the NACE classification on the one hand, and, on the other, culture-related goods and services based on the CPA classification (for an overview, see also ESSnet, 2012, p. 62 et seq.). The most important difference between ESSnet and UNESCO is that ESSnet does not include the entire domain of equipment, materials and supporting services in the concept of culture. ESSnet views these activities not as intrinsic parts of culture (creation) but more as part of the production process. However, ESSnet is not consistent in this regard; for instance, the production of musical instruments, printing of books and reproduction of recorded media are included in the list of culture-related branches of industry and goods and services. This raises the question of why other culture-related equipment, materials and supporting services, such as microphones, cameras, etc., are not included.


Other, ultimately less suitable ways to delineate the concept of culture can be found in the standards of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)7) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; see e.g. (OECD, 2007)). As far as the OECD is concerned, it is possible to point to a publication about culture as it relates to local development (OECD, 2018), which in large part follows the ESSnet definition of culture. This OECD publication focuses primarily on the role of culture, and in a broader sense the creative industry, in regional development.

The Netherlands

The delineation of the concept of culture is also a subject of discussion in the Netherlands when drafting the satellite account for culture and media (CBS, 2014). This preliminary research mainly aligns with the ESSnet definition and, in addition to delineating the concept of culture, it also focuses on doing the same for the concept of the creative industry. The branches of industry served as the starting point for the statistical operationalisation of these concepts. No delineation was made based on goods and services. Nevertheless, it is a useful description of basic principles and criteria with the aim of delineating the concepts of culture and the creative industry and identifying similarities and differences between these concepts.
There are other discussions surrounding the concept of culture, for example in the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science’s Cultuur in beeld (‘Culture in the picture’) series of publications, the Monitor Creatieve Industrie (Media Perspectives, 2019) and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP, 2018).

The conclusion is that UNESCO and ESSnet’s delineations of the concept of culture offer the best way to further describe the concept of culture in this satellite account. Particularly as regards statistics, these delineations will also help to apply the established definition in practice. First of all, both organisations largely agree about the goods and services that belong to the core domain of culture. This has also been given practical implementation by actually naming these goods and services in the international classification of goods and services (CPA). The only point on which there is a difference of opinion or implementation between the organisations is regarding precisely which supporting goods and services should be included in the domain of culture; CBS has formulated its own guidelines for this. Finally, it should be noted that both the EU (Eurostat), following up on ESSnet, and UNESCO are currently revising their delineations of the concept of culture. The international discussion about what should and should not be included in the phenomenon of culture shows no sign of stopping.

The final delineation of culture and media

In compiling the satellite account for culture and media for the Netherlands, the decision was made to remain as close as possible to an existing, authoritative international definition and operationalisation of the phenomenon of culture. The aim was to avoid reopening the discussion of precisely what is understood to be culture. It was also considered an unachievable goal to find a new definition that ‘everyone’ would agree on in a short time; as mentioned above, that debate is still ongoing at both a national and an international level.

For this reason, the ESSnet definition and framework were chosen to form the basis for the definition and operationalisation of culture and media. One reason for this choice was that it largely aligns with UNESCO’s core domains; the operationalisation is also restricted to the core business of culture, starting with the creation of a good or service. Moreover, it makes future comparisons with other countries more likely. Like UNESCO, ESSnet uses delineations based on both branches of industry (NACE) and goods and services (CPA).

Choice 1: Within the framework of the satellite account for culture and media, the choice was made to define culture and media using the goods and services recorded in the CPA 2008.

Culture and media are therefore not defined in terms of branches of industry; it is the good or service that determines whether something counts as culture or media, and not the branch of industry that produces certain goods and services. The approach from the point of view of goods and services is methodologically more sound because it only includes goods and services that are considered to be culture and media. After all, not all goods and services produced by a particular branch of industry which is included within the culture and media sector are themselves cultural and media products. And the reverse is also true: branches of industry which are not generally included in the culture and media sector also produce cultural and media products. An approach from the point of view of goods and services also offers the opportunity to identify the demand side of culture and media (consumption, investments, exports, etc.) in relation to the various cultural and media products and the domains of which they form the basis. In a general sense, a goods-and-services approach is most in keeping with the structure of the national accounts which ultimately underpin this satellite account; this approach will also yield more detailed and informative data.

A necessary follow-up question is whether the delineation of culture and media should be restricted to the core domains of culture mentioned above (creation and cultural expression), or whether it should be expanded to include supporting goods and services that occur further up the production and distribution chain. Neither ESSnet nor UNESCO offer a consistent answer to this question. ESSnet appears to restrict itself to the stated core domains, but still ultimately includes some supporting goods and services in the delineation. UNESCO, on the other hand, includes a great many supporting goods and services in its delineation, such as the production of computers, software and telecommunications services. Neither organisation offers explicit regulations to govern this choice.

In delineating culture and media for the satellite account, the following guideline was used to govern the inclusion of support goods and services in the production and distribution chain:

Choice 2: The only culture-related supporting goods and services in the production and distribution chain that are included in the satellite are those which would cease to exist if the cultural good or service in question, viewed from the perspective of creation, did not exist. These supporting goods and services therefore only exist because they form part of the value chain of a cultural good or service.

This means that printing machines, cameras and musical instruments are included, but that for example the ICT infrastructure (hardware, software, telecommunications services) is not. Product groups such as ICT infrastructure would still exist if they were not functioning as carriers of culture.

There will always be grey areas, and in all honesty it must be noted that the choices also depended to a certain extent on the level of detail of the classifications – such as NACE and CPA – and whether there are enough data available at a low level of detail. The more detailed these classifications are in the domain of culture and media, and the more data are available at a low level of detail, the more culture can be observed. In other words: a certain level of pragmatism is necessary when making choices and compiling the satellite account for culture and media.

Final list of cultural and media products

The attached table includes all the goods and services that were ultimately considered to be culture and media. As already stated, this selection was made on the basis of the CPA 2008, a European classification of products that relates to the section of the branch of industry within which these products were produced. In this regard, the first four figures of the CPA product codes are the same as the first four figures of the classification of economic activities that forms the basis of the classification of businesses by branch of industry (NACE).

Within the system of national accounts, these CPA codes are linked to the product groups used when compiling the national accounts. A product group in the national accounts almost always consists of multiple CPA codes. If all of a product group’s CPA codes are considered to be related to culture and media, this means that the entire product group falls under culture and media. If only some of the CPA codes count as culture and media, an estimate is made as to which part of the product group this concerns. In addition, where necessary, supplementary estimates are made in order to classify the various cultural and media products as accurately as possible in the various domains and subdomains.

The attached table shows exactly which CPA codes belong to which product groups, as well as how they are further subdivided according to the product groups, domains and subdomains published in the satellite account. In the interest of readability, the product groups have been sorted by domain and subdomain.

Non-cultural and media products

Finally, in addition to the cultural and media products, some other products were also included in the satellite account for culture and media because these products are inextricably linked to the cultural and media products identified. This means that investments in assets such as buildings by the Art (SIC 90), Libraries, museums and nature Conservation (SIC 91) and Public administration (SIC 84) sectors – insofar as they fall under culture – are also included. These investments are considered to be used for the purposes of culture and media to such an extent that they are inextricably linked with culture and media; one example of this is the construction and renovation of museums. The same is true for the ancillary revenues of the businesses and organisations in the art and culture branch of industry. These are not in themselves cultural and media products, but these ancillary revenues would not exist without the associated cultural and media products, such as museum shops, cafés and restaurants, educational courses, etc.


CBS (2014). Vooronderzoek satellietrekening cultuur en creatieve industrie (‘Preliminary research for the satellite account for culture and the creative industry’), The Hague/Heerlen/Bonaire.

ESSnet-Culture (2012). European Statistical System Network on Culture, final report, Eurostat, Luxembourg.

Media Perspectives (2019). Monitor Creatieve Industrie 2019 (‘Creative Industry Monitor 2019’). Monitor Creatieve Industrie 2019 - Media Perspectives

OECD (2007). International measurement of the Economic and Social importance of culture, Paris.

OECD (2018). Culture and local development, Paris.

SCP (2018). Het culturele leven (‘The cultural life’), The Hague.

UNESCO (2009). Framework for cultural statistics, Montreal, Canada.

Appendix 1 What is culture and media (link)

1) For example, landscapes and nature parks.
2) International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) of the United Nations. The European variant of this is the Nomenclature statistique des Activités économiques dans la Communauté Européenne (NACE); the Dutch version is the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). These three classifications can be mutually compared up to the fourth digit level.
3) Classification of Products by Activity, 2008 edition.
4) Can also be interpreted as ‘activities’.
5) The principle that nobody knows if a created product will find an audience.
6) Not every good belonging to an intellectual property is culture, and not every culture-related good is associated with an intellectual property.
7) See e.g. WIPO Standards – Newsletter Archive.