Germany's State Minister for Culture Christina Weiss has proposed increasing the German Export Union's budget from Euros 3.5m to Euros 5.8m and revamping it as central service agency to promote German films abroad.

The new agency would be called German Films - Service and Marketing and would be part of a drive to improve German cinema and television's international profile and export chances.

Weiss said that German films were currently promoted abroad by various bodies such as the Export Union, feature film and television exporters, foreign embassies and the Goethe Institut.

She also said that "the rather meagre budget available" prevented powerful campaigns such as those carried out for French feature films by UniFrance."

"The international promotion of German cinema in its present form leads to an blurred picture of German filmmaking abroad," added Weiss.

Weiss' ministry plans to double the budget it currently allocates to the Export-Union by 2005 and expects the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and the regional film funds to also increase their financial contributions to the expanded export agency.