Screen Australia gets funding

National Film and Sound Archive also in budget

SYDNEY -- New Australian screen agency Screen Australia has been given AUS$103 million ($97 million) for its first year of operation, while the National Film and Sound Archive will get AUS$105.2 million ($99 million) over the next four years, arts minister Peter Garrett announced Tuesday as part of the federal government's annual budget allocations.

The funding is below the levels that the existing agencies currently receive by about AUS$15 million. The Film Finance Corp., the Australian Film Commission and Film Australia will merge to form Screen Australia on July 1. It's unclear how much of the AUS$103 million will be used to directly subsidize film and TV production.

Screen Australia will administer the new producer offsets, which will replace most of the government's direct subsidy of the film and TV production sector. Garrett announced this month that all current programs run by the existing agencies will run until the end of the year while the merger takes hold.

"Screen Australia will be a strong, centralized source of funding, and today's announcement is a critical step in ensuring a sustainable and successful local industry," Garrett said.

He also announced that the AFC's research and statistical services, which were to be transferred to the Australian Film Television and Radio School, will now be operated by Screen Australia.

A CEO and board for the new agency have yet to be appointed.