Producers cash Czech Television

New filmmaker's fund bodes well for ad sales

MOSCOW — Czech filmmakers won a hard-fought three-year financing stopgap after President Vaclav Klaus signed off on a long-awaited law guaranteeing almost $24 million in state funding for local films.

It’s a major victory for producers — and it comes thanks to the country’s pubcaster, Czech Television.

Two years ago, the industry was plunged into despair when Klaus vetoed a cinema tography bill that had been eight years in the making just as it was about to be approved by parliament.

Now, under a deal hammered out last summer between producers, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and culture minister Vaclav Jehlicka, part of the advertising coin on CTV’s four channels will be diverted to the state film fund.

This will continue until the analog broadcasting signal is switched off in 2010.

CTV was set to lose the ad coin in any case. The temporary extension of advertising on the pubcaster — which, like Blighty’s ad-free BBC, also is funded by a license fee payable by all households with a TV — is primarily aimed at supporting the transition to digital.

The new law allows some of that revenue to go directly to domestic productions while more ambitious proposals to introduce tax incentives and other fiscal measures for filmmakers go through parliament.

Czech filmmakers have long lobbied for such measures, aimed at attracting investment in domestic and foreign co-production.

Such a cinematography law, they say, would bring the country into line with neighbors Hungary and Poland where generous new funding and tax rebates have boosted production. The developers of Hungary’s new Korda film studios outside Budapest attribute the recent adoption of a 20% tax incentive on all films shot in that country as a key reason for building the $127 million, 84-acre complex.

Radomir Docekal, managing director of the Czech Audiovisual Producers Assn., welcomes the new Czech law.

“This is great news and a step in the right direction,” Docekal says. “But what we need is a systematic solution for the longer term, and that is why we are still working on a new cinematography law.”

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