On the eve of Australia's annual producers conference, Kerry Packer's Nine Network has announced that it intends to commission a slate of feature films and is currently seeking both developed proposals and new strategic relationships to facilitate the plan.

The enterprise is to be headed by Nine drama director Kris Noble and Hugh Marks, director of Nine Films & Television, the content and rights management arm of Nine.

"This initiative is part of our ongoing commitment to invest in quality local content," said Nine Network managing director David Leckie. "With Nine's commercial expertise and the marketing power of Nine and its related entities, an extension into feature films is a natural complement to our existing businesses."

There is also talk that rival network Ten will consider moving into features under the stewardship of new drama chief Sue Masters. The third network, Seven, produces through Red Heart, a joint venture with UK media giant Granada.

Australia's networks have had a negligible role in feature film financing for many years. This is partly due to the belief that the points allocated to feature films under Australian content regulations have not made them worth the trouble.

The annual conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia runs from November 15 to 18.