State TV revenues benefits all local productions

Prague– Czech producers, most of whom depend on the Czech Cinematography Fund for at least part of their budgets, are lobbying to protect a key source of the fund’s coin — advertising on pubcaster Czech TV.

That revenue stream, worth some $30.6 million last year, has declined, like all TV advertising in the region in the past year, but is still a wellspring for the Cinematography Fund, which supports nearly all local film production along with film fests and other projects.

The fund, administered by the Culture Ministry, handed out nearly $3.7 million during the second quarter of 2010, but officials have cautioned that coffers could drop substantially late next year if the ad ban goes into effect as scheduled.

Private terrestrial TV stations successfully lobbied the state during negotiations over taxes in recent years that the pubcaster should phase out its advertising, leaving the TV ad market to them, based on the argument that state TV has no business running populist programming attractive to advertisers.

Pavel Strnad of the Audio-Visual Producers Assn., repping many applicants for the Cinematography Fund’s coin, says he hopes the ad ban can be forestalled.

The association is backing a proposal to preserve the current system but dedicate 40% of Czech TV advertising coin for the film fund, 40% for other Culture Ministry spending and the rest for digitizing the vast archive of Czech films, which includes many classics that still exist only on film.

“We hope that the advertising on Czech TV will continue,” Strnad says, “otherwise, the Ministry of Culture would have to find the revenue somewhere else to keep the budget at least at the same level.”

The fund also draws on royalties from the national film archive, but with so many pics not yet digitized, that revenue is far short of its potential.

The latest round of Cinematography Fund support, totalling $5.6 million for 66 applicants, includes $306,000 for the film adaptation of Vaclav Havel’s play “Leaving,” $429,000 for Dawson Prods.’ “So Far So Good,” the story of Czech resistance fighters under communism, and $306,000 for Strnad’s own shingle, Negativ, for “Fair Play,” about a young athlete tricked into taking performance-enhancing drugs in 1983.

The fund also supported Czech-Polish co-production “Yuma,” an urban crime tale from Evolution Films, to the tune of $61,000, and Czech-Slovak pic “Cigani,” from In Film Praha, with $306,000.

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