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Plans to help Swiss film industry compete with Hollywood

The Swiss interior ministry is drafting a new film law, aimed at ending the near total domination of Hollywood films in Swiss cinemas. It follows the completion of a consultation procedure amongst interested parties.

Culture versus commerce is a perennial theme. Switzerland's film industry is tiny and relies on sponsorship and other financial support, not least from the cantons and the federal authorities, as well as Swiss television.

The interior ministry says much of the Swiss film distribution market is an oligopoly, dominated by blockbuster productions from Hollywood. This leads to a lack of diversity for cinema goers, and more choice is one of the main aims behind the new film law.

The preparatory commission is proposing a levy on tickets for blockbuster films, based on the number of film copies in circulation. The levy would not be a hidden tax, but would be fully recycled back into the Swiss film industry or distribution channels.

This disincentive tax is proving a bone of contention. It is predictably opposed by the centre and right parties, and by Swiss film distributors. The idea is however welcomed by the vast majority of cantons and cultural organisations. Parliament may get the choice of two drafts, one with, and one without the levy.

The new law also foresees changes in the promotion of Swiss-made films. Federal funds would be increased, but grants would also take the success of a film into consideration, and certain selective steering criteria could also be applied.

by Peter Haller

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