German film law revamp

Gov't makes b'casters pay into the federal film org

BERLIN — The German government will soon change the film law, forcing TV webs to make the same statutory contributions to the Federal Film Board (FFA) as exhibitors and the video industry.

The center-right government agreed at a cabinet meeting to reform the law after a group of cinema chains won a challenge to the existing law in the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig last February.

Under the existing law, broadcasters negotiate their contributions to the FFA while exhibitors and the video industry must make statutory contributions — which they felt was unfair. The Leipzig court ruled that the existing setup was unconstitutional and referred the matter to the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

The government reforms, due to take effect before the summer recess, mean the Constitutional Court will most likely not have to pursue the case further.

Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said the extra funding from the webs will strengthen the FFA.

The FFA receives more than €50 million ($69 million) per year through the existing system, Neumann said. One-third of the coin comes from cinemas and distribs, a third from the video industry and a third from pubcasters and commercial webs.

“What’s been lacking is a legally binding framework for the networks,” Neumann said, noting the nets’ contributions to the FFA were anything but voluntary. “We’ll have that with the reformed law, which we’ll introduce soon. Our calculations showed that the networks did, in fact, pay appropriate contributions in the past.”

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