The Czech Republic's largest film financier, Czech Television (CTV), has decided to channel its annual $2.4m (CKr92m) film investment into 8-10 features in 2001, compared to the 14 productions which it is backing this year.

"The overall amount we invest will be about the same, about $2.4-2.6m (CKr92-100m)," said CTV programming chief Jaroslav Kucera. "But inflation and rising production costs mean that the money will not stretch as far and it makes more sense to concentrate our money in fewer productions."

Czech film-makers are heavily dependent on CTV which supports more than two thirds of the country's annual film output. According to the chairman of the Czech Producers Association (CPA), Daniel Zavorka, the average Czech production costs between CKr20-30m and has to rack up at least 500,000 admissions before a producer can begin to recoup his investment. Last year, Jan Hrebejk's Cosy Dens topped one million admissions and was profitable "but this is the exception to the rule", Zavorka said.

CTV is often a minority investor in a production but usually insists on taking all TV rights and a percentage of theatrical distribution. Talks are currently underway between CTV and the CPA to get a fairer deal for producers, because, with funding sources scarce, pay-TV and other sales are often a vital component in financing a film.

CTV-backed features currently in production include Jan Sverak's Dark Blue World, shooting in Africa, Andrea Sedlackova's Victims And Murderers and Martin Sulik's Little Country.