Arts Alliance Media's (AAM) ambitions for digital conversion of Europe's cinemas hasreceived a $56m (Euros 43m)boost with the signing of a financing agreement with European services company Econocom and various private investors.

The company has also announced a strategic partnership with Arqiva Satellite & Media for the satellite distribution of content.

Bothdeals will besignificant steps forward for AAM, whichhas been anxious toadvance a digital cinema switchover that has been slow in Europe.

Despite AAM's signing uplast yearof French chain Circuit George Raymond (CGR), an impasse over who pays forconversionhas continued to stall the growth of digital screens, although progress is believed to be happening behind the scenes at the moment.

The digital discussions in Europe have been dominated by a debate about how smaller cinemas will be able to make the switch, with predictions of mass closures without support.

Some commentators have argued that the most urgent priority for D-cinema change isto showtangible signs of progress with the bigger exhibitors.

AAM will hope the latest announcements will serve that purpose. Econocom Financial Services, will provide$26m (Euros 20m) the purchase of equipment to complete the CGR deployment.

CGR has so far installed 126 digital screens through a virtual print fee-based rollout agreement with AAM. It hopes to finish the change to all its 400 screens by next Spring.

The remaining finance will support AAM's future growth with investors, who are not being named, taking a shareholding.

The Arqiva deal includes both film and live events, which have been one of the few real digital cinema successes in recent years.