AFMA, the tradebody that runs the AFM and represents 170 independent producers anddistributors worldwide, has hired public relations firms The Lippin Group andPodestaMattoon.

The moveestablishes a bi-coastal entertainment and policy communications network forAFMA, which is preparing to go head-to-head with embattled MIFED organizerswhen it launches an AFM market in November 2004.

Entertainment PRfirm Lippin Group is headquartered in Los Angeles and has wholly owned officesin New York and London.

PodestaMattoonis based in Washington DC and AFMA will rely on the consultancy's political andlegislative strategy experience to consolidate ties on Capitol Hill.

"In an era ofincreased competition for distribution and presentation opportunities,independent producers of film and television need to be more aggressive in thepolicy arena," AFMA president and chief executive Jean Prewitt said in astatement.

"By pooling theright strategists on both coasts, I am committed to ensuring that AFMA's voiceis heard by the right decision-makers on critical issues.

"In recent yearsAFMA has carved out a position for itself on policy debates ranging from mediaconsolidation to runaway production.

"To build on the progress we have made on these and otherissues, we need to put the best possible team on the field."