Government tells Brit pubcaster to back more pics

Hybrid British pubcaster Channel 4 is upping the annual budget of its film financing division, Film4, by 20% to £10 million ($15 million) this year.

The hike returns it to its 2008 level before the economic downturn.

The cash injection comes after the government passed the Digital Economy Act into law in April, which imposed a legal commitment on the broadcaster, which is state owned but funded by advertising, to invest in its film financing division.

Channel 4 CEO David Abraham said the company was “delighted” the law acknowledged the channel’s increased expectations, and added that “investment in British film will continue to sit at the heart of Channel 4’s public service mission.”

Tessa Ross, controller of Film4 and Channel 4 Drama, added, “Film has always been in the DNA of Channel 4, but this added protection, through the extended remit, comes at a time when this significant part of our British culture is in need of protection.

“To be able to commit an extra £2 million each year to filmmakers and to work that we care about gives us great hope for the future.”

Film4 is one of three major public funding bodies in the U.K. that invest in local fare: the U.K. Film Council’s newly unified film fund invests an annual $22.8 million of lottery money into Brit pics, while BBC Films invests around $18 million a year.

Film4 recently backed two features in official selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival: Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” which is competing for the Palme d’Or and Hideo Nakata’s “Chatroom,” which is in Un Certain Regard.

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