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Portugal’s giant telco Portugal Telecom has pledged E25 million ($30 million) over five years to the Film and Audiovisual Fund, designed to finance more mainstream films and TV shows and boost co-productions.

Although PT controls 95% of the cable TV and pay TV business and owns Lusomundo, which dominates the country’s film distribution and exhibition sector, it’s the first time it has moved into film funding.

The main cause for this change is the 2005 film and TV law that requires platform operators and TV channels to invest 5% of annual revenues in Portuguese and European productions.

The quotas have been criticized by several players, including Francisco Balsemao, the owner of the SIC broadcasting franchise.

Zeinal Bava, chairman of PT Multimedia, was enthusiastic about the deal.

“This fund will enable us to produce more and better Portuguese productions for both theatrical exhibition and the cable TV circuit,” he said.

Minister of culture, Isabel Pires de Lima, said “the film institute (ICAM) can now concentrate its energies on supporting more innovative or artistic cinematic creation.”

Other media players in Portugal are expected to sign similar protocols with the ministry of culture in the near future.

PT is subject to a takeover bid from the country’s shopping mall giant, Sonae (Daily Variety, Feb. 7).