Law No. 55/2012 of 6 September was adopted, subject to reservation by some of the organisations that are part of this sector's value chain, with a view to the resolution of the crisis experienced by the cinema and audiovisual sector in Portugal.
Law No. 55/2012 reviews the legal framework of the funding of the cinematographic and audiovisual sector, setting out that the same shall be made through the imposition of fees and by establishing direct investment obligations. This notwithstanding, the regulation of a set o fundamental questions – the knowledge of which seems essential to achieve the full scope of this new legal framework – was delayed to a later stage.
According to information provided by the Government, the said regulation is now complete with the approval of the Decree-Law by the Council of Ministers on 18 July.
The television operators and pay-tv service operators have made a number of criticisms relating to Law No. 55/2012, many of which associated with its financing obligations.
One of the doubts raised by Law No. 55/2012 arises from the wording of article 27 thereof, which repeals Law No. 42/2004 of 18 August, with the exception of its articles 23 to 26, as well as articles 63 to 82 of Decree-Law No. 227/2006 of 15 November (which created Fundo de Investimento para o Cinema e Audiovisual, "FICA"). From this seems to follow not only the maintenance of FICA but also of the obligation to contribute thereto. This solution does not seem logic in light of the new financing model established.
Notice should be taken of how funding amounts are allocated: a relatively small share of the support is earmarked for audiovisual compared to the one allocated to cinema. The lack of a more fair distribution is a sign that television production continues to be treated as the "poor relation" of this sector.
It can also be said that Law No. 55/2012 perpetuates State – centralised decisions and funding of cinema without really trying to promote its progressive independence from the State.
Doubts also arise concerning the suitability of and need for this new Law. It should be reminded that the implementation of the scheme of support of the cinema and audiovisual activity previously in force - Law No. 24/2004 and Decree-Law No. 277/2006 – depended on the action of the State, with which multiannual investment contracts have been signed. However, in accordance with information provided, the cinematographic projects in respect of which funding was applied for, and which were approved, did not crowd out the available funds.
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