A tax credit scheme for TV and animation production companies is to be introduced in Britain in a bid to keep big budget British television productions in the UK. British chancellor George Osborne today (March 21) unveiled the plans as part of the 2012 British Budget.
The tax break proposals will be subject to EU Commission approval and a consultation process, but could be introduced by April 2013.
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen welcomed Mr Osborne’s announcement, which he called “a bold move” that would have “considerable positive impact” on the local economy and would be “critical for the continuing development of the screen industry in Northern Ireland.”
In a statement released to IFTN, Mr Williams noted that, despite there being no previous tax incentive, Northern Ireland had “managed to secure a pilot and two series of Europe’s largest television drama – ‘Game of Thrones’.”
In the Republic, Britain’s announcement was met with some concern where the addition of a TV tax break could have implications on Ireland’s ability to continue to draw big budget British TV productions to the country.
The Audiovisual Federation, the IBEC group that represents Ireland's feature film, television and animation sectors, said the new tax relief for the UK highlighted the need for Ireland to ensure it remained an attractive and competitive investment location.
Spending on television production in Ireland stood at €241m in 2010, while €30m was spent on animation. By contrast, €117m was spent on film production. Figures for 2011 have not yet been announced.
This year alone the BBC, drawn to Ireland in part by its 28 per cent tax incentive through Section 481, is spending €11m on two major drama series in Dublin, ‘Ripper Street’ and the second series of ‘Vexed’.
Torlach Denihan, Audiovisual Federation director for employers’ confederation IBEC, noted that, although the move by Britain was cause for some concern, any implications for Ireland could not be known until the full details of Britain’s tax credit is revealed.
Speaking to IFTN, he said: “It’s far from clear what the implications will be but we have to look to our defences, so to speak, and ensure we remain competitive and we just can’t rest on our laurels.” He said the Government should extend section 481, saying “it would facilitate planning.”
Section 481 was one of the reasons ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel’, a €22 million drama set in Belfast, was largely filmed in Dublin. Producer Paul Myler of EPOS Films, who are co-producing, ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel’ said he couldn’t speculate as to what a British tax credit might have had on that production.
He said: “You’d have to wait and see what the legislation is and then do an analysis on that and to break it down and compare it in terms of costs.”
He added: “The initial reaction in terms of productions in Ireland, it would be of some concern. But really we have to see the detail, and the devil is always in the detail. So I think that would be the main thing. Some initial concern, but one must always wait to see.”
In a statement to IFTN, James Hickey, Chief Executive, the Irish Film Board said: “Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board have been tracking developments in the UK and are currently reviewing the announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today. BSÉ/IFB continues to work with all the stakeholders in the audio visual production industry on an on-going basis to ensure that Ireland remains an attractive and competitive location for film, TV and animation production.”