[DE] Key points of amended German Film Support Act published

IRIS 2020-4:1/9

Christina Etteldorf

Institute of European Media Law

The culture and media working groups of the German Parliament’s CDU/CSU and SPD coalition partners have published the key points of their joint proposal to amend the German Filmförderungsgesetz (Film Support Act – FFG). The reforms are primarily designed to protect the long-term future of the German film industry and strengthen German filmmaking as an economic and cultural asset. The cinema sector is at the heart of the envisaged changes.

The reforms will be based on changes to eligibility criteria, the distribution of support, funding mechanisms and the structure of the Filmförderanstalt (Film Support Agency – FFA), which are designed to strengthen the German film industry firstly in terms of the quality of German filmmaking (cultural component) and secondly from a financial point of view (economic component).

With regard to the funding and stabilisation of the tax income received by the FFA, which is responsible for distributing film support in Germany, the key issues paper provides first and foremost for a consistent, moderate rise in the film levies that cinemas, video distributors, VOD operators, television broadcasters and programme providers are required to pay. As a guideline for the increase, which will be tiered depending on the provider, the basic levy, which currently stands at 3% for cinemas above a certain annual turnover, will rise to 3.6%. In addition, the proportion of the levy that television broadcasters can pay in the form of airtime for film advertising will be reduced from 40% to just 25%. Further key points that the parties want to discuss with the industry concern the future granting of reference film funding, with 50% as a subsidy and 50% as a conditionally repayable loan (currently 100% subsidy), the abolition of short film funding and the transfer of funding for sequels from project funding to reference film funding.

Regarding the distribution of funding, various measures will be taken to strengthen, in particular, distribution and marketing funding, project and reference film funding, script funding and additional script development, as well as media education film projects. The reforms should also promote fairer distribution of revenue between distributors and producers. The parties want to maintain the exclusive cinema exploitation window for funded films, which currently involves blackout periods of between 6 and 18 months depending on the type of broadcast, although the blackout periods could be shortened to between 4 and 5 months.

The key points concerning possible changes to the conditions under which funding is granted include the improvement and/or introduction of gender equality, diversity, inclusion, fair working conditions, the promotion of further education and youth development, and the environmental and sustainability aspects of film production.

The parties have announced that they want to discuss the key points further with industry representatives. However, the legislative process will begin soon, in the hope that the amended FFG will enter into force by 1 January 2022 at the latest.


This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.