Irishproducer lobby group Screen Producers Ireland (SPI) has called on nationalbroadcaster RTE to invest more in local feature films.

It told a parliamentary Committee on Communications todaythat it wants a fair deal with RTÉ on three issues: investment in indigenousfeature film, programme rights ownership; and guaranteed levels of indigenouslyproduced children's and animation programming.

RTÉ made aformal commitment to spend an extra £3m year on local production in 2001 whenit was lobbying to increase its license fee.

But themoney never materialised and RTÉ's contribution to indigenous film-making hasactually fallen over the intervening years.

SPI'ssubmission includes the case for a statutory amendment that would oblige RTÉ toinvolve itself in local film production, a measure it asks the Government toconsider in drafting the new Broadcasting Bill. The submission say: "Asignificantly increased investment in indigenous feature film by RTÉ as part ofits public service broadcasting remit, as is the case in virtually all otherEuropean countries, so that the national broadcaster is enabled to showcase theindigenous audiovisual culture that is the Irish film industry."

The SPIlobby follows a seminar at the recent Galway Film Fleadh on two new broadcastingfunds in Ireland one of which, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI)Sound & Vision fund, will be available to feature film makers (among othertypes of TV and radio programming) provided they have a prior commitment forprime time broadcast from a broadcaster in the Republic of Ireland.

The Sound& Vision fund is currently awaiting sanction from the EU Commission but ithas an accumulated reserve of £20.7m to which approximately £8.5m is beingadded from TV license fee income each year.

It willfund up to 65%-85% of budgets between £250,000 and £750,000 and will deal withbudget applications over that amount on a case by case basis.