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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
TV firms told to back UK film
28 Days Later
The movie 28 Days Later was a rare British hit
TV firms should spend more money supporting and promoting the British film industry if it is to compete in the global market, a group of MPs has said.

The MPs, sitting on the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, particularly called on the BBC to invest more in British film.

The committee's report into the UK film industry also said tax breaks introduced to encourage British film-making should be kept in place.

Film such as Bend it Like Beckham and 28 Days Later were used as examples of British movies that have pulled in big audiences, bucking the trend of the majority which fail to secure cinema releases.

The report said just 3% of films shown on terrestrial channels were British movies made in the past eight years.

The select committee MPs said: "We would like to see increased levels of support for film production and exhibition of British product from the public service broadcasters."

Lord Attenborough
Lord Attenborough has backed tax breaks

'High quality'

Committee chairman Gerald Kaufman said: "We're not implying for a moment that the BBC's prime activity should be the making of cinema films and support for the film industry, but at the same time the BBC does have some record of making films of high quality, like Mrs Brown.

"We're worried that record is not going to be continued in the same way."

But defending its strategy, the BBC said: "In the past 18 months alone BBC Films has invested in 13 movies, all of which will be seen by a wide audience on BBC Television.

"These range from Sylvia (starring Gwyneth Paltrow) to Danny Boyle's Millions and Michael Winterbottom's Code 46.

"BBC Films also has a clear strategy for uncovering and nurturing developing filmmaking talent and has provided big screen directorial debuts."

The corporation singled out Lynne Ramsey (Rat Catcher, Morvern Callar), Dominic Savage (Out Of Control - winner of the Michael Powell British Film of the Year Award), Francesca Joseph (Tomorrow La Scala!) and Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort).

The committee also called on BSkyB to consider supporting British film "as a wide long-term investment in content which must be in that company's interests".

Committee member Frank Doran said broadcasters had a "pretty appalling record" on financing and screening British films.

He said there was "a lack of strategy anywhere in broadcasting" and he questioned why "endless third rate American imports" were screened on TV.

"Why not second and first rate British movies? It all comes down to costs and that's very depressing," he said.

Bend It Like Beckham
Bend it Like Beckham was also a success abroad
The report also said the government should continue to provide tax relief, citing them as of "indispensable importance" for both overseas and indigenous film-making.

A leading proponent of tax breaks is Lord Attenborough, who recently said hit films such as Billy Elliot and Notting Hill would not get made if the breaks were lost.

Arts minister Estelle Morris said: "We must fight the corner for our domestic film industry - ensuring it gets the support it needs in a globally competitive market.

"And we must continue to attract international filmmakers to our shores, while getting our films shown at home and abroad."

Sir Alan Parker, director of the UK Film Council, welcomed the report, saying it was necessary "to tackle the pitifully poor record of UK broadcasters' investment in new distinctively British films".

The report also highlighted a 10m training package called A Bigger Future aimed at attracting the brightest new talent into the industry, developed by the UK Film Council and the Skillset training organisation for film, broadcast and interactive media.

"A Bigger Future is a comprehensive plan to equip the UK Film industry with world beating skills that will underpin its future commercial success. "

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