Hopes for a comprehensive Czech film law which would benefit runaway productions as well as local films are fading, but there remains a chance that both foreign and local producers will see improved conditions in the middle distance.

As Screendaily.com reported in July, Czech filmmakers and politicians have long been discussing a comprehensive law which would help lure runaway productions to Prague and provide support for local film. Among the proposals was a 20% tax rebate like the one currently in place in Hungary.

Recently, howeve,r the Culture Ministry has dropped any mention of incentives for foreign filmmakers from its proposals. The Culture Ministry's bill will focus on creating sustainable support for the State Fund for Czech Cinematography and on changes to how the fund is administered.

Discussion of a possible rebate has moved to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the trade ministry's promotion agency, CzechTrade. Radomir Docekal, executive director of the Czech Audiovisual Producers Association, says that new discussions between producers and the ministries of finance and industry have been positive and that a 20% tax rebate remains on the table.

The Culture Ministry is seeking to grow the state fund to provide $154.m (CZK 300m) annually to Czech film-makers. Half the fund would come from the state budget, with distributors, exhibitors and broadcasters contributing the other half.

But support from the private sector for the state fund traditionally has been lukewarm at best. Given the lobbying power of broadcasters in particular, the ultimate size of the fund will depend on how much the private sector is willing to share.

In the end, both bills - one for culture, the other for industry - must be submitted to the cabinet by year's end. And although industry insiders are frustrated that a comprehensive law has been scuttled, they remain cautiously hopeful that lawmakers will approve the bills next year.

'At least the state understands now that film is both culture and industry,' said a source inside the Culture Ministry who has been part of discussions. 'Most of them still don't understand what a producer is, but at least they know that something must happen.'