Spain b’casters must help fund pix

Danger: Lots of low-budget, low-interest films, producer sez

MADRID — If you’ve just decided to write off Germany as a potential pic partner, spare a thought for Spain. Spanish film production looks set to receive a $160 million windfall.

The cause is new legislation, unveiled Thursday in Parliament, which will oblige Spanish broadcasters to commit 3% of their total annual revenue to invest in local films. That revenue ran at some 996 billion pesetas ($5.4 billion) last year.

Pics eligible to tap this money include international co-productions with a partner that qualifies for Spanish nationality.

The legislation came from Spain’s ruling Popular party as an amendment to an upcoming film law. It is almost certain to hit the statute books, since the Popular party enjoys a comfortable majority.

The TV quota looks set to boost Spanish production levels further. In 2000, 104 local pics were produced. The jury is still out, however, as to whether the film legislation will improve the standards of production.

“The danger is that a lot of low-budget, low-interest films will be produced,” said one producer. Signs are, however, that broadcasters’ co-production investment in Spanish pics with indie producers could count toward the quota.

“If that were to happen, nets would be encouraged to take a bigger commitment in higher-tab projects,” said one TV exec.

(Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.)

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