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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 13:12 GMT
TV 'must support British film'
Jim Broadbent
Jim Broadbent won an Oscar for his role in BBC film Iris
Television channels in the UK could be forced to plough more money into British movies in an attempt to ensure the future of the British film industry.

Two Labour backbencer have put forward an amendment to the new Communications Bill which would give broadcasters a legal obligation to support the film indstry.

East is East
East is East: A FilmFour hit
The move would see TV companies make films as the BBC has with Iris and Billy Elliot, and Channel 4 did with East Is East and Charlotte Gray.

But it comes six months after Channel 4 was forced to close its expensive film-making arm, FilmFour, after a string of box office flops.

Media "super-regulator" Ofcom should have powers to ensure broadcasters back British film, according to the amendment put forward by John Robertson and Parmjit Dhanda.

The Communications Bill currently has a clause saying broadcasters should "support and stimulate" drama, comedy and music - but MPs want feature films added to that list.

"This is an industry that's doing very well at the moment, but it's also an industry that - without the support that's required from government and from the broadcasting industry - could begin to suffer," Parmjit Dhanda told BBC News Online.

This is an industry that's doing very well at the moment, but it's also an industry that... could begin to suffer

Parmjit Dhanda MP
He said that, with more investment, film fans would see more successes like Bend It Like Beckham and Harry Potter, much of which was filmed in the UK with money from the US.

"In the same way that we expect [broadcasters] to have a certain amount of regional content, we [should] expect them to be able to make a certain contribution towards feature film," Mr Dhanda said.

Film-making is a huge industry, with more than 560m spent on making films in the UK in 2002. But much of that was on Hollywood hits like Die Another Day and Lara Croft.

The government does support the film industry

Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The number of British films made in the UK fell from 51 in 2001 to 42 last year.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport would not say whether the amendment would be adopted by ministers.

But a spokeswoman said: "The government does support the film industry and does try to work in ways to promote the British film industry, so they want to take an interest in looking at the amendment."

See also:

14 Jan 03 | Entertainment
11 Jan 03 | Entertainment
06 Nov 02 | Entertainment
19 Feb 03 | Entertainment
25 Oct 02 | Entertainment
09 Jul 02 | Entertainment
17 Oct 02 | Politics
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