A new Brazilian film industry body, the Agencia Nacional de Cinema (ANCINE) was established by president Fernando Henrique Cardoso on Friday September 9, to oversee the implementation of his new film policies for the Brazilian audiovisual industry, many of which impose additional costs on foreign imports.

An official ceremony is scheduled in the capital Brasilia on Tuesday, September 11 to celebrate the launch of the new agency and the long-gestating policies based on proposals from the government-appointed consulting committee, GEDIC.

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) tried in vain to dissuade the government from approving some of the changes, although the executive order, which comes into immediate effect, was less punitive than some studios had anticipated. The most contentious issues are doubling of import tariffs and a new 11% tax on the profits derived from the distribution of imported feature films.

For imported films the tariff of $600 per-film per-window has been doubled to $1,200. The new additional 11% tax on profits made in Brazil does not apply if the film is a local co-production.

The MPA is allegedly unhappy with the new policies and plans to appeal. As part of a temporary measure (medida provisoria) these policies are still subject to congressional debate and approval within a month. However, temporary measures can be implemented immediately as this one has.

In a letter to the government, Rio de Janeiro-based Steve Solot, senior vice president, MPA, Latin America pointed out that MPA's member studios had contributed substantially to the revival of Brazilian cinema. "Among the top ten Brazilian films the first half of 2001, six were co produced and/ or distributed by MPA members, including A Partilha (Columbia TriStar), Xuxa Popstar (Warner Bros), Amores Possiveis (Fox)...". he said. "During the next five years, MPA members will be co producing and/or distributing more than 25 local films," he added, hinting that these could be scaled down.

The decree also retains (although does not increase) the current screen quota system which obliges exhibitors to programme Brazilian films for 28 days per-year per-screen. Multiplexes are subjected to a sliding scale, whereby complexes with more than 11 screens must screen local films 217 days a year between them.

The decree also introduced a system of fines for exhibitors who do not adhere to the quota, something which will be administered by the new body ANCINE.

Pay TV programmers have also been hit with new import tariffs which charge $800 per feature film and $180 per-episode per-TV series. Multi-regional channels remain exempt, however.

GEDIC's proposal for 4% of the total advertising revenue of free- and pay-TV to be re-invested in film production did not pass.

Brazil claims one of the lowest screen per capita counts in the world. There are 1,480 screens for a population of an estimated 70 million.