The Czech film industry has attacked the country's impending audiovisual legislation because it contains a dramatically scaled down version of proposed film body, the Czech Audiovisual Centre.

The Czech Audiovisual Law, intended to bring the country in line with European audiovisual legislation, gets its second reading in parliament on April 27. In an earlier draft, the law mooted the centre as an autonomous department of the Czech culture ministry, employing 15-20 people.

The centre was originally intended to promote Czech cinema abroad, present Czech films at international film festivals and build up contacts with European production finance body Eurimages and other pan-European funding structures. A Czech Film Commission was also to be created as a commercial arm of the centre, to provide services for foreign producers and investors.

However, the Czech finance ministry has recommended a much smaller operation in the latest draft of the legislation, with a narrower brief and only two members of staff.

"The new law makes no sense if it does not establish the centre," said Czech producers' union chief Pavel Strnad. "After two years, the new law remains practically the same as when we started. Much work has been done in vain."

Compared to Hungarian and Polish cinema, Czech producers claim domestic cinema is poorly represented at foreign festivals and markets. Local producers have traditionally relied on Telexport, owned by state broadcaster Czech Television, to export domestic film and television fare.

Some Czech film professionals have attempted to launch the centre as part of existing organisations such as the National Film Archive and Regional Culture Information Centre, but without success.

The Czech industry also wants to see a boost to the State Fund for Cinematography, currently supported by a 3c (CKR1) levy on cinema tickets. Czech producers want the levy extended to videocassette sales and commercial TV stations that run ads during broadcasts of Czech films. But the Czech finance ministry is unlikely to agree.