Spanish film law clears hurdle

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MADRID -- A day's worth of meetings Monday between Spain's vice president and sectors of the film industry here unblocked a stalled legislative process, clearing the way for passage of a controversial new film law.

The key obstacle was cleared when Vice President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told the parties involved that an 18% tax write-off will be included in the film law for producers and their partners with respect to film investment.

The incentive also is valid for broadcasters and private capital investors, one of the main requests of the Spanish Federation of Audiovisual Producers that had not appeared in the bill's original draft.

FAPAE declined comment on the development, citing an agreement not to discuss in public the contents of the meeting.

Private television operators, grouped under the Union de Televisiones Comerciales, were relieved to hear that the government had backed away from its plan to up the obligatory investment for broadcasters from 5% of overall revenue to 6%.

Producers, distributors, exhibitors and broadcasters said they discussed "general guidelines" and that they hoped to see the final draft by Wednesday, in advance of the bill being presented at Friday's presidential cabinet meeting for a vote to initiate the parliamentary debate.

"UTECA feels very hopeful," UTECA spokesman Jorge de Corral told Spanish news services. "(UTECA) trusts in the government's goodwill to improve and not weaken one sector or another."

One sector that probably wasn't pleased with its one-on-one with the vice president was exhibition, which heard the government's plan to maintain the quota that requires 25% of screens be dedicated to Spanish product.

No one at exhibitors' lobby FECE was available for comment.
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