Artur Mas, chief minister of Spain's Catalan regional government, the Generalitat, revealed plans to nearly double annual funding of the local audiovisual industry to Euros 120m (pts20bn) for 2002, at the Catalonia Film Festival of Sitges

Mas and culture minister Jordi Vilajoana also announced a new project to back the production of 100 TV movies over the next three years with regional public broadcaster TV3 through the Catalan Corporation of Radio and Television (CCRTV).

The Euros 120m will be made available through loans by the Catalan Finance Institute (ICF) in an ongoing initiative which is the driving force behind the current renaissance of Catalan cinema. The loans offset a modest subsidy system which grants an average Euros 6m (pts1bn) to the local film and TV sectors. The objective, say Generalitat spokespersons, is to recuperate investments, through a policy shift toward co-financing rather than subsidising projects.

With this in mind, the government said it will also begin a venture capital fund called Invermedia to attract private investment in the sector. Invermedia, set to begin in January, will launch with an initial capital of Euros 12m (pts2bn). The Generalitat also plans to create a guarantee fund to cover audiovisual productions financed by third parties. What incentives private businesses investing in the local sector may be provided is as yet unclear.

The ICF funding was settled in agreements signed with the Catalan Producers' Association (ACPCA), currenty presided over by Lauren Films chief Antonio Llorens, and Barcelona Audiovisual (BA), under Filmax head Julio Fernandez.