Measure will boost investment in Italian films

ROME

The Italian government is introducing legislation to force local TV networks to air more homegrown movies via new investment and programming quotas, which could hit acquisitions of Hollywood fare.

The news is being praised by local producers who lost a roughly 10% market share in 2012 at the home box office, in terms of grosses, and had long been clamoring for more TV air play.

The investment quotas, set out in a draft decree, force pubcaster RAI to spend 3.6% of its total revenue on either production, financing and pre-buys or acquisitions of Italo movies. Other broadcasters must invest 3.5% of net profits in local fare.

As for programming, RAI must air homegrown pics for at least 1.3% of total airtime on its three generalist stations and 4% on its six niche channels.

Commercial broadcasters, starting with Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, must air Italo movies on generalist channels for 1% of total airtime, and 3% of total airtime on niche channels.

The new TV rules are expected to guarantee investment worth at least €200 million ($267 million) annually.

“We’ve been waiting years for this step,” said Riccardo Tozzi, who heads Italo motion picture org Anica. “Finally the (Italian) film industry will no longer be beholden to TV networks.”

For Italy’s TV nets the decree, expected to become law soon, will mean rethinking programming patterns and a likely cut in purchases of U.S. and international pics in favor of domestic titles.

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