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The U.K. government has launched an emergency £500 million ($647 million) film and TV production insurance fund, a move expected to help give a much-needed boost to the indie sector as it attempts to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and get cameras rolling on numerous stalled productions.
The decision comes after months of discussions with the industry, spearheaded by trade body Pact, working alongside the British Film Institute and several other groups and production companies. Insurance has been considered the most pressing factor for the industry coming out of the crisis, with many projects unable to get the necessary cover due to coronavirus fears and under threat of moving overseas or being canceled altogether.
The Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, the government claims, will help to get TV and film productions across the country that have been halted or delayed by a lack of insurance to get back up and running, and “filling the gap left by the lack of available insurance and cover coronavirus-related losses for cast member and crew illnesses and filming delays or disruptions caused by the ongoing battle against the virus.”
“This very welcome news shows that the UK Government has listened to one of our key industries and has taken unprecedented steps to support our highly successful indigenous film and TV production and broadcasting industry to get back to what we love most – making TV programmes and films enjoyed by U.K. audiences and many more millions around the globe,” said Pact chief executive John McVay.
“This will not only help many hundreds of small companies across the U.K., but also the many thousands of freelancers who have been furloughed to get back to work along with those who sadly weren’t able to benefit from the Government’s interventions.”
Sara Geater, Chair of Pact and COO of All3Media, said: “The UK indie sector had a very strong 2019, making award winning series for both the UK and US markets. We have been very badly hit by COVID-19 and the support of the Government at this time is critical and hugely appreciated. Our sector now has every chance of a return to being the successful global industry that we are renowned for.”
Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said: “Given the significant contribution of film and TV production to the UK economy, there has been a huge joint effort on the part of government and industry to get production restarted. The issue of securing coronavirus-related insurance quickly emerged as the biggest hurdle for independent producers – and a major priority for the Screen Sector Taskforce – so the Government’s £500 million scheme is really great news for our production business, jobs and for the economy.:
Along with U.K. broadcasters, Pact involved many leading production companies in the negotiations including the following senior executives from scripted and factual production.
See-Saw Films COO Hakan Kousetta, , who also sits on the industry working group, said: “This is exactly the shot in the arm the TV and film industry has been waiting for. This intervention will allow production companies to get going again and thereby ensure that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of production spend can be applied to British jobs and services.”
Martin Haines, md of, Kudos, who has also been part of the negotiations, said: “This is a decisive and timely intervention which turns the lights back on and is an absolute gamechanger for recovery of the TV and film industries and the thousands of people who work in them.”
Comcast-backed Sky Studios, which has invested heavily in U.K. productions, also welcomed the news.
“This is the greenlight the industry needs to get back into production,” said CEO Gary Davey. “The Government has taken a significant step to support the U.K.’s world-leading indie sector, helping to get cameras rolling again on the nation’s favourite TV programmes.”
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