German TV networks agree film pact

Private channels to fund $19.4 million package

Germany’s commercial broadcasters have inked a E13.5 million ($19.4 million) financing agreement with the Federal Film Board (FFA), the nation’s top film subsidy org.

Repped by the Assn. of Commercial Broadcasters and Telecommunications (VPRT), broadcasters — including RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 — have agreed to provide the money for film funding, $12.2 million of which will be in the form of “media services.” The figure reps a $2.1 million increase over the amount devoted to media services in the previous agreement and includes support in the form of video-on-demand premieres.

The agreement will run for a year — the federal government is due to approve a new film subsidy law this fall.

In a separate pact signed in May, pubcasters ARD and ZDF agreed to put up $26.8 million in support, including $4.3 million in services.

Contributions from the broadcasters are voluntary, but the new film subsidy law will likely require broadcasters to pay mandatory levies to the FFA, a change brought about by legal challenges from cinema operators. Under current law, theatrical exhibs and home entertainment distribs are required to pay film-subsidy levies while broadcasters’ contributions are voluntary. A federal court ruled earlier this year that such levies are not only unfair but also unconstitutional.

In an effort to solve an impasse that threatened to strangle federal film subsidies, the FFA agreed in June to provide $57.5 million in startup financing to help the digitization of domestic cinemas on the condition that exhibs drop their opposition to the levies.

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