Italianentertainment body AGIS is once again urging the Italian government toimmediately address the financial problems that have been crippling the localfilm industry for the last 12 months.

It is the second time in the last year that the Italianfilm sector has protested against massive cuts to state funds, endless delaysin handing out money to projects that have already been greenlit, and a lack offinancial incentives, which have all lead to a stagnation in Italian filmproduction.

AGIS haswarned that the lack of efficient government support is currently putting atrisk the jobs of 200,000 people who work for 15,000 companies in theentertainment sector.

It is nowlobbying the government to set out at least Euros 500m for the localentertainment industry in 2005. In 2003, the state handed out Euros 575m to theentertainment fund (FUS), which includes opera, dance and theatre, but it wasdrastically reduced in 2004.

Italianproducers have repeatedly complained that they have not received any governmentfunds for months, and as such many local features have had to be cancelled.

"We havediscussed the new Italian Cinema law, and will test it in the field. But eventhe best law will become a bad law if it doesn't have adequate funds," nationalindependent producers association API warned in a statement.

"Inaddition to the cuts, poor spending and lack of compliance with regulations forTV investments, Italy suffers from a lack of specific resources for the filmindustry," API said.

Theproducers association pointed out that Italy is clearly lagging behind otherEuropean territories in terms of state financing of the film sector.

In France,the film industry is funded by "a tax on each [cinema] ticket that is sold, onTV advertising, and on cable TV subscriptions, " API said. "In the U.K, cinemais funded through the National Lottery Fund. Germany has national and regionalfunds. And in Spain, Zapatero recently doubled funds for cinema, raising themto over Euros 60m."

API hascalled an emergency meeting in Rome on December 15 to debate the state ofpublic and private funding in Italy and Europe.