EC clears $367 mil Hungarian film aid scheme

Includes $20 mil annual tax incentive

BRUSSELS -- A $367 million, six-year Hungarian film aid plan, which includes a $20 million annual grant directed toward tax breaks, was cleared by the European Commission on Wednesday.

The aid package will run through July 1, 2013, and cannot provide for more than 50% of a film's budget.

The commission -- the EU's antitrust authority -- says that strict criteria for aid will ensure that governments do not engage in subsidy wars by using film incentives to attract major film productions. The aid should instead allow national film industries to compete internationally on their merits.

Apart from the $20 million annual tax incentive, the Hungarian film support scheme includes direct grants for film development, production and distribution as well as the operation of art cinemas and film festivals.

Overall, total government aid for filmmakers in the EU is estimated at $1.7 billion a year, more than half of which is provided by the French government.