Tue, Mar 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Film industry fund panned as ‘snack’: lawmaker

ENOUGH FUNDING?Lawmakers questioned whether government subsidies to cultural production industries are enough to keep up with China and South Korea

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee yesterday questioned the government’s plan to invest NT$10 billion (US$342.45 million) in the nation’s film and television industries to counter 31 incentives China announced last month, which target Taiwanese businesses, civic groups, cultural workers and artists, saying that the fund would merely be a “snack” rather than a “nutritional supplement.”

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恒) said the incentive program would lift the limits imposed on the number of Taiwanese working on TV programs, TV series and films in China.

It would also remove the cap on the number of Taiwanese produced films and TV series that Chinese film studios, radio stations, television stations, Internet service providers and cable television networks were allowed to import, he said.

China previously imposed various limits on films and television series jointly produced by Taiwan and China, including ratios for Taiwanese to Chinese staff and Taiwanese to Chinese funding, Yen said, adding that it also stipulated how much of the storyline should involve China.

The incentive program would not only remove these percentages, but it would also shorten the time needed to have the storyline of TV series approved by the Chinese government, he said.

Yen asked National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairwoman Nicole Chan (詹婷怡) if the NT$10 billion fund — NT$6 billion from the National Development Fund and NT$4 billion allocated toward the development of the cultural and creative industries — would help counter China’s incentive packages.

“Is NT$10 billion a nutritional supplement or a snack? Will it help the film and television industries?” he asked.

Yen said that both South Korea and China have adequate funding to produce popular TV series and are capable of exporting them to other countries.

He asked whether Taiwan could accomplish the same thing through the funding.

People First Party Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said local media have been fettered by outdated regulations that have restricted their development for more than a decade, such as laws barring political parties, the government, and the military from investing in the media.

The Ministry of Culture is in charge of overseeing and supporting content production, whereas the NCC regulates television networks and cable systems, Chan said, adding that the government has allocated more than just NT$10 billion in funding.

The ministry has also provided subsidies to produce films, to help further the education of professionals needed for the film and television industries and to fund projects, Chan said.

Meanwhile, the NCC has raised the percentage of programs that each television channel can self-produce, Chan said.

“Regardless of the incentives, the key is whether Taiwan has a sound environment for producing film and television programs and strong policy to support their development,” she said.

Chan also said that Taiwan used to produce much quality content, but it did not receive enough exposure.

The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女), a 2017 Taiwanese television miniseries jointly produced by Taiwan’s Public Television Service and HBO Asia, is an example of how the industry could move forward through partnerships between the public and private sectors, she said.

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