news digest


U.K. film industry faces tax revisions

LONDON — The U.K. tax authorities appeared set to spoil another weekend for the film industry as they unveiled a further clampdown on rules used by individuals in limited liability partnerships to offset losses against tax. Production lawyers and accountants will be poring over the Revenue and Customs brief published Friday, which limits the trading loss threshold to just £25,000 ($48,000) for such partnerships involving high-net-worth individual investors. Sources close to Revenue and Customs made it clear that while the latest move was not aimed at the film industry, it likely will affect it.

Seghatchian new head of U.K. film fund

LONDON — U.K. producer Tanya Seghatchian, whose résumé includes co-producer credits on the first two "Harry Potter" movies, has been named head of the U.K. Film Council's development fund. Seghatchian will replace Jenny Borgars, who has headed the £4 million ($7.8 million) lottery fund since 2000. The fund supports single-project script development, six slate-development companies and a number of script initiatives. Most recently, Seghatchian executive produced French filmmaker Francois Ozon's first English-language film, "Angel," which screened last month In Competition at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Ashcroft fights to halt XM-Sirius merger

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Broadcasters retained heavyweight legal talent in their battle to block the $4.8 billion XM-Sirius deal, hiring former senator and Attorney General John Ashcroft to help the industry in its battle. Ashcroft wasted no time lobbying his successor, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as he sent a letter spelling out the antitrust harm the deal will cause. "To create now a monopoly for a single licensee is to create a unitary dominant player who would have the incentive and ability to use monopoly rents to undermine competition in media and broadcasting," Ashcroft wrote.

No roadblock to CTV's Chum takeover

TORONTO — Canadian media group CTVglobemedia Inc. said that its proposed CAN$1.4 billion ($1.2 billion) takeover of domestic broadcaster Chum Ltd. will not be challenged by the federal Competition Bureau. Toronto-based CTVglobemedia, which operates national network CTV, said it was told by the federal government agency that there were no grounds to block the Chum deal for fueling undue industry consolidation. CTVglobemedia runs 21 conventional CTV television stations, with full or part ownership of another 15 specialty channels. Pending regulatory approval from the CRTC, CTVglobemedia's takeover of Chum will entail significant overlap with the target company's 12 local TV stations.

Sony, Immersion settle controller dispute

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Sony Corp. and Immersion Corp. have settled their long-simmering patent dispute over the vibration technology that shakes video game controllers, and they will work together to bring the so-called "rumble" function back to PlayStation products. The litigation threatened to halt Sony's U.S. sales of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles, controllers and games that use Immersion's "vibro-tactile" technology. The patented technology adds a sense of realism to gameplay by jolting the player's hands when there is gunfire, explosions, crashes or other dramatic onscreen events. Immersion sued Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment America in 2002 seeking $299 million in damages.
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