The Spanish government hasformed a landmark new mutual guarantee fund for the audiovisual sector,unveiled Monday in Madrid under the banner Audiovisual SGR.

Spain's Minister of CultureCarmen Calvo announced the initiative in sketchier detail at last month'sDonostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival while the project awaitedapproval from supervising entity the Bank of Spain.

It will start operatingearly next year with an initial capital fund of just over Euros 6m, splitalmost 50-50 between the state film institute ICAA and producers' rightsmanagement entity EGEDA. Small and mid-sized businesses from the sector havebrought an additional Euros 45,000 as members to the fund.

Its creators are billing itas a pioneer initiative providing financial support to contributing small andmid-sized businesses in the form of personal guarantees allowing them to financeany activity within the production, distribution, exhibition or technicalsectors.

The fund's primary aim is tohelp businesses access and negotiate better conditions on bank loans, a majorproblem for Spanish producers who often take on sizeable personal debt tofinance films. The fund will additionally offer consulting services onfinancial issues, including tapping into state subsidies.

Audiovisual SGR waspresented in Madrid by the Minister of Culture, EGEDA president Enrique Cerezo,president of the Spanish producers' federation FAPAE, Pedro Perez, and EGEDAgeneral manager Miguel Angel Benzal.