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German Independent Distributors Launch Lobby Group to Protest TV Cuts

Oh Boy - H 2012
Independent German films such as Jan Ole Gerster's 'Oh Boy' are increasingly rare on German TV.

German public broadcasters have slashed their acquisition budgets for German and independent films.

COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's independent film distributors have banded together to form a lobby group, Die Independents, to protests budget cuts at German public broadcasters.

The group of 23 distributors, which runs the gambit from studio-sized operations such as Constantin Film and Studiocanal to boutique operations including DCM and Pandora Film, accounts for about one-third of the German film industry by revenue. They are united in their opposition to recent cuts by Germany's public broadcasters, which have seen national networks ARD and ZDF drastically scale back their film-acquisition budgets.

Mismanagement at ARD's acquisition division Degeto, which has left ARD with an oversupply of films for its main channel, means the network has effectively stopped buying movies. This has been disastrous for German distributors, many of which rely on TV licensing deals as a core source of revenue.

Local distributors also bemoan the decline in primetime slots on German TV for independent films, warning that it threatens the "cultural diversity" of the German film landscape. Acclaimed indie productions including Oscar winner The Artist or Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, for example, weren't considered too niche for Germany's main public channels. The new lobby group has called for a discussion with Germany's public broadcasters with the goal of carving out new primetime slots for feature films.