Germany's Federal Finance Ministry (BMF) has come under fire from fund initiators and media lawyers for the recent additions to its Media Ruling requiring all decisions on a private film fund's activities to be taken exclusively by a board elected from the investors (ScreenDaily.com, August 2003).
In a discussion organised by the Verband Deutscher Medienfonds (VDM) at the Munich Media Days, producer and fund initiator Eberhard Junkersdorf of Neue Bioskop Film said that the new guidelines "are programmed as a job creation scheme for lawyers.
He added: "Making films means having to take decisions quickly. It is alien to practice to want to replace the knowledge of running a production with a supervisory board [of investors]. How can one expect them to be in a position to read a budget or decide on casting'"
Franz Landerer, board chairman of Victory Media, added that "the advisory board ruling is a 'knockout' criteria for Hollywood films. No producer in Hollywood will let other people interfere in his plans."
Christof Schmidt, VDM board member and media lawyer at PriceWaterhouseCoopers Veltins, suggested that the "uncertainty" and "vagueness" surrounding the new guidelines could only be resolved if the funds sat down together with the financial authorities on a national and regional Laender level.
However, Ingetraud Meurer, a senior civil servant at the BMF, was adamant that "all of the remaining questions were answered in the extended Media Ruling" and argued that the new legislation was a "practicable regulation".
At the same time, she stressed that there were no plans to introduce any new tax incentives such as exist, say, in Canada, Luxembourg or the UK. "Our position is clear: the Media Ruling is for the media funds and we won't have any other incentives, If there are any other support measures they should come by way of direct funding and not via tax laws."
However, Junkersdorf suggested that the introduction of a German or European spend obligation for the funds would be of immeasurable benefit for the German economy: "It can't be that capital to the tune of Euros 2-3bn lands in America each year. As our industry is expanding strongly, one would create additional tax revenue and also employment with 10% of the money that would otherwise flow abroad."