German feature film producers could receive an injection of Euros 70m-80m worth of fresh cash from an unexpected source - the pay-TV platform Premiere.

The offer came after Premiere CEO Georg Kofler criticised the different VAT rates which apply in Germany for those subscribing to pay television (16%) and taking out a magazine subscription (7%): "Give us a value-added tax advantage of seven per cent, and we will commit ourselves to investing in German feature film production", Kofler said.

If Premiere was to keep to this promise, it would constitute a major change from the programming strategy of recent years which had seen the pay-TV operator acquiring rights only to completed local productions, and then only for selected box-office titles.

Kofler's promise comes less than a week after Premiere signed a package deal with Walt Disney Television International for pay-TV rights to films from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Miramax/Dimension. Films such as Pearl Harbour, Signs and Berlinale opening film Chicago as well as securing the future of the Disney Channel on the pay platform.

Premiere now has film deals in place all of the eight Hollywood major studios and will be screening 300 German TV premieres of feature films and TV producitons such as Six Feet Under and Band Of Brothers this year.

As of the end of 2002, Premiere had 2.596m subscribers - up 7.7% from the end of 2001 - and aims to pass the 2.9m mark by the end of this year, with the platform planning to go into the black as early as the first quarter of 2004.