Asmuch as 531.8m euros has been set aside for French film and TV production nextyear under the promising new budget outlined this afternoon in Paris by Frenchculture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon.

Thatfigure represents a 4.8% jump from 2003 and is made up largely of funds comingfrom the National Cinema Center's (CNC) compte de soutien.

Thataccount is a revolving fund derived from a tax on movie tickets and broadcastnetworks, as well as from home video and DVD sales and rentals.

Aillagondescribed the new allocation as "a budget in progression, better executedand more efficient."

Hedelivered his remarks with little fanfare - a low-key approach that seemeddeliberate after a summer of constant abuse from showbiz artists andtechnicians protesting against restrictions on unemployment benefits.

Alongwith the combination of compte de soutien and government funds bolstering the budget, plans were also presentedto encourage film shoots to remain in France during production andpost-production.

Thegovernment said it would like to help in the creation of regional funds inorder to entice filmmakers. One euro will be kicked in by the government forevery 2 euros spent by the local collectives on production as of January 1.

Theadvance on receipts scheme, which is a selective aid given to filmmakers by theCNC, will jump to 21.2m euros, representing a 13.5% rise over two years.Development aid will also increase to 3m euros, from 1.3mpreviously.

Aillagonstressed the importance of the new DVD and video tax which was implemented lastJuly and which enabled 40m euros to be raised thanks to the booming market.

Hewas also very positive about the new tax credit scheme that will be open to allproducers shooting and posting in France, effective also from the New Year.

Finally,plans for the relocation of France's cinema archives, the Cinematheque, to theeast of Paris, have been approved and a new study will be commissioned thatwill analyse methods for preserving France's cinematic and televisualpatrimony.