Notwithstanding Italy's brand new cinema law, the Italian film industry is once again asking the government to urgently address a series of problems that are crippling the local film industry, including poorly distributed funds, and the lack of antitrust laws or financial incentives.

During an emergency, self-described "labour dispute" held in Rome and attended by hundreds of members of the Italian entertainment industry, national entertainment body AGIS warned that the jobs of 200,000 people who work for 15,000 companies in the entertainment sector, are currently at risk - due to a lack of efficient government support.

This year, the government has set aside Euros 500m to support the Italian entertainment industry, compared to Eurso 575m in 2003, the noisy conference heard. "The problem isn't necessarily the amount - although the 18% of this that is destined for the film industry is clearly insufficient - but it's the way it's being distributed that is the real problem," said AGIS president Alberto Francesconi.

The government, which has only just started to invest Lottery funds in the entertainment industry, needs to set aside specific support for the exhibition sector, said Francesconi, adding that more support must also be given to film promotion and cinemas that programme Italian films.

"But this should follow a logic of growth and development - it should not turn into mollycoddling," he argued.

Francesconi added that the industry is still waiting for the government to introduce a tax shelter, which would benefit production, and particularly the exhibition sector. "But it has to be introduced as part of a wide-reaching business plan. Private individuals don't invest where they see a case of government welfare - they invest in sectors where there's growth."

Other demands from AGIS include de-taxing profits that are re-invested in the film industry, as well as lowering VAT charges which exhibitors pay to distributors (a percentage of the 'rental commission') from 20% to 10%.

(Exhibitors also pay a 10% VAT charge to the government on each ticket sold.)

With Rupert Murdoch's Sky Italia currently the only pay-TV player in Italy, AGIS also called on the government to set up specific anti-trust regulations to avoid the current monopoly, as well as forcing pay-TV broadcasters to invest a minimum amount in the local film industry.

Producers and distributors have seen pay-TV acquisition prices drop by 50% since Sky Italia kicked off last summer.