Italy's budget cuts will affect film biz

New culture minister announces $7.9 mil reduction

ROME -- The Italian government's budget cutbacks will hit the cinema industry, according to comments Thursday from newly installed Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi, who said that tax credits for the film industry will be reduced by about 5 million euros ($7.9 million).

But Bondi, who took office May 9, said the reduction was not a signal that the government did not value the country's cinema industry but was instead related to government belt-tightening across all sectors.

"Every part of the government has to do its part, including the part that helps the cinema industry," Bondi said.

Media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, now in his fourth stint as Italian prime minister, has vowed to lower taxes in Italy by 4 billion euros ($6.3 billion) while also reducing the government's budget deficit. The only way to accomplish that, Berlusconi has said, is to reduce government spending.

In his previous terms, Berlusconi has favored the television industry--including Mediaset, the broadcaster he controls -- at the expense of other industries, including film.

The reduced tax credit scheme has sparked protest from several corners, including cinema industry associations ANICA, AGIS, and API.
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