UK distribution chief calls for funding bump

Prexy pushes for stronger copyright law in keynote

In response to the British government’s recent promises to increase lottery funding for pics from £27 million ($43.6 million) to $69.5 million by 2014, Film Distributors Assn. prexy David Puttnam is pushing for a similar hike in distrib funding.

Speaking to industryites in London on Thursday, Puttnam addressed the challenges facing the U.K. distribution sector at large.

Funding for the arts is being cut across the board and the industry is in transition as the British Film Institute takes over the duties of the shuttered U.K. Film Council.

With this in mind, Puttnam said that as the annual lottery funding for film increases “the share allocated to distribution activities should rise in proportion.”

A number of departments that fell under the UKFC’s remit will not receive funding under the BFI but the P&A Fund, which supported distributors, will remain.

Puttnam emphasized the importance the Research and Statistics Unit played at the UKFC.

At present, the department is not specifically funded but the BFI is taking it on risk, contingent that a public/private or commercial funding solution can be found.

“I appreciate that discussions are already under way on this,” said Puttnam. “But the review must find a way to sustain this function in the fullest sense, so it can service the needs of both industry and government.”

Puttnam also said that the greatest obstacle to growth across the whole of the creative industries remains “copyright infringement and theft, especially — and increasingly — online.””It threatens to drain the sector of its legitimate rights and revenues; it undermines confidence, stability and, potentially, new and well-paid jobs,” he said. “Conversely, the more strongly IP is protected, the more likely it is to drive investment and innovation.”

He added that the “lengthy” delay in the implementation of the Digital Economy Act, which is currently under judicial review at the High Court, was a source of “dismay and frustration.”