German broadcasters have been called on to double their financial contribution to the German Federal Film Board to bring them into line with the cinema owners' annual payments of Euros 21m.

In a declaration on the revision to the German Film Funding Law (FFG), the four German exhibitor trade associations AG Kino, Cineropa, Gilde Deutscher Filmkunsttheater and Hauptverband Deutscher Filmtheater argued that the contributions of the public and private channels "must at least be on the same level" as the cinemas' and that the TV channels should make a "binding commitment" before the bill's reading in the Bundestag later this year.

"If this agreement doesn't occur, the legislator must then lower the film levy of the cinemas to the level of the TV contribution (Euros 11m)".

The current FFG comes to an end on December 31, 2003.

Meanwhile, in the UK on Friday (Feb 14), two government ministers have proposed an amendment to the new Communications Bill which would force UK broadcasters to support the film industry.

Culture minister Kim Howells supported the move to give the new communications regulator powers to penalise broadcasters if they do not show more British films on their channels.

Elsewhere in Europe, broadcasters have varying degrees of obligation towards local film funding. In Spain, the country's new 2001 Cinema Law requires broadcasters to invest 3% of their annual income in Spanish films, while in France TV funding is one of the most established and important sources of cash for the national film industry.

Canal Plus alone has to invest 20% of its annual earnings into French and European film production through straight acquisitions or pre-buys