France Televisions ups cinema spend

Public TV group to increase budget to $85 mil by 2012

PARIS -- French public TV group France Televisions is stepping up its investments in cinema over the next three years in an effort to become a major player in the country's national film industry, the group said Tuesday.

Despite a loss of ad revenue thanks to a government-initiated ban on commercials active as of the start of the year, the public TV group still plans to remain active in the media sector through its production and distribution subsidiaries France 2 cinema and France 3 cinema.

FTV will increase its 2009 big screen budget of €56.9 million ($81.5 million) by 1.1% in 2010 to €57.5 million ($82.3 million), then by another 1.5% to €58.4 million in 2011 and another 1.5% to €59.3 million ($84.9 million) in 2012.

The FTV group currently produces more than 50 films per year, including 13 films from first-time directors in 2008.

France Televisions has seen strong returns from its big screen investments with 24 million admissions for films the group produced in 2008, success for FTV-produced "Seraphine" at last year's Cesar awards, and a strong presence at this year's Festival de Cannes with Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" and Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" taking the top prizes.

The group recently received €450 million ($644 million) from the state to compensate for the gap in its ad revenue.