The UKgovernment has asked the UK Film Council to carry out a review of policytowards British film.

CreativeIndustries Minister James Purnell announced the 'stocktake of film policy' in aspeech at an Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) event in London today.Purnell, who was appointed to the post last month, also suggested that the BBCshould boost its funding of British film.

"TessaJowell [Culture Secretary] and I have commissioned the UK Film Council to lookat film policy to see if there is more that we can do to develop an integratedstrategy for British film. Think of it as an MOT for film policy," Purnellsaid.

Headded: "The Film Council has been a great success - if it didn't exist, itwould have to be invented'But we cannot sit back - and [UK Film Council chiefexecutive officer] John Woodward will therefore be leading a review to considerfour key issues: how do we attract big budget films to the UK, how do wesupport UK production, how do we improve distribution and should we do more forcultural film."

The movecomes as the UK struggles to attract foreign shoots in the face of stiffcompetition from cheaper locations in Eastern Europe and the high value of thepound compared to the dollar. There has also been damaging uncertainty aboutthe exact nature of government tax incentives for film.

It alsofollows criticism of the Film Council from Qwerty Films chief Michael Kuhn in aPact lecture last month, who said that the UK faced the 'bleakest prospect forindigenous UK production' since the mid-1980s (, May 9).

The Film Council welcomed the move, saying the reviewwould give it a leading role in looking at Government film policy overall.Woodward commented: "Film is an important partof our cultureand it's also a highly competitive global industry which ischanging and evolving all the time. Ifthe UK isgoing to meet thechallenges of the 21st century we need toregularly check that we have theright policyframework to deliver success."

Elsewhere in his speech,Purnell said the BBC had an important part to play in funding British films andthat the government would look at its relationship with the film industry inthe White Paper on the future of the BBC, which will be published later thisyear.

"In preparing the White Paper,we need to think about the BBC's creativity and in particular what thegovernment can do to support it. And of course, just as important is the rolethe BBC can play in supporting the creativity of British industry, whether byinvesting in British film or working with the independent production sectors intelevision, radio and on-line."

Purnellalso announced that the government was considering launching an equivalent ofthe UK Film Council for the music industry to work on issues such as piracy andregulation.