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Brazil mulls foreign pic tax

Valenti to speak out as GEDIC looks to protect 'local content'

MIAMI — Motion Picture Assn. chairman and CEO Jack Valenti is set to weigh in on a controversy over new regulatory proposals in Brazil that could include new taxes on foreign films and programming.

A 13-member consulting committee of government ministers and industry reps, known as GEDIC, will advise the government on a bill to regulate the audiovisual industries and promote local production.

GEDIC has yet to submit its recommendations, but Valenti told Daily Variety the proposals include “widely sweeping draconian and highly discriminatory measures that we think could seriously harm the film and TV industries.”

“The big problem is this is being done in camera,” he added, referring to the group’s private debate of the issues. “No one has had the opportunity to present alternatives.”

The lack of official information — and fears of being blindsided — prompted Valenti to pen a letter in June to Rubens Barbosa, Brazil’s ambassador to the U.S., outlining the MPA’s concerns.

The MPA is also worried that Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso may implement regulations via an executive “temporary measure” that would become effective immediately, rather than submit a bill for Congressional debate and vote.

Mary Pitelli, president and chief operating officer of pay TV programmers org TAP Latin America, wrote a similar letter to Barbosa in June. MPA VP for Latin America Steve Solot wrote to Pedro Parente, chief minister of Cardoso’s cabinet. Both Pitelli and Solot asked to participate in the discussions.

GEDIC member and veteran producer Carlos Barreto told Daily Variety he believes TAP and the MPA have no right to participate but are entitled to lobby Congress once a bill has been prepared.

“Nothing has been decided. We are dealing with a bunch of speculations,” he said. “Our suggestions are not radical. We are just trying to protect local content.”

GEDIC will hold a last session Aug. 20 before the government puts together the bill to send to Congress, Barreto said.

Valenti said the MPA wants to see Brazil’s local industries thrive.

“Our motives are not antagonistic at all,” he insisted. “We are trying to be helpful.”

(Marcelo Cajueiro in Brazil contributed to this report.)

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