Debate begins over Spain's film law

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MADRID -- Spain's parliament opened debate Tuesday on the proposed film law, allowing representatives from the affected sectors to address a parliamentary culture committee.

Spanish Film Academy president Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde told the committee that government needs to find ways to foment diversity, suggesting that a percentage of U.S. films' boxoffice sales be earmarked for reinvestment in local cinema.

"The five most important film industries would not exist without official aid," Gonzalez-Sinde said. "Only those that are backed by the state have a world presence."

The law, which was approved by the Spanish cabinet June 1 for a fast track through parliament, proved controversial with television broadcasters, distributors and exhibitors, who claimed that their interests were not defended. Producers, meanwhile, applauded the measure that upped the amount available in subsidies and defined the role of an independent producer.

Jorge de Corral, who heads private television broadcasters lobby UTECA, argued that the new law creates more "impediments" for broadcasters to participate in projects and said that the group has submitted amendments that will make the new law "reasonable." It was not immediately known what these amendments include.

The original draft upped the amount broadcasters are obligated to invest in Spanish film -- to 6% from 5% of revenue -- while blocking their access to subsidies designed for independent producers.

The bill being debated now does not include that clause, though broadcasters are still expected to contribute 5% of their revenue under an existing directive.
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