U.K. Government TV Tax Credit Gets Positive Response From Entertainment Industry

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Clemence Poesy of "Birdsong."

The British biz also welcomes a pledge to pump $9.7 million into the creative industries training sector.

LONDON – The U.K. government's pledge to introduce a tax credit system for high-end TV production and a move to pump $9.7 million into creative industries training has conjured a sigh of relief for industry reps here.

While the rest of the general population Thursday was debating the fallout from the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne's fall fiscal policy statement, it was his pledge to push through fresh tax credits for high–end TV production, animation and video games and job training that struck a chord for creative industry minds.

Legal eagles Wiggin, a bespoke firm which advised TV Coalition, a powerful lobby group that pitched the government for the tax credits, said the credit would keep the U.K. competitive.

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The campaign to have the TV tax credit introduced was spearheaded by Wiggan film and TV partner Charles Moore along with Stephen Bristow of accountants Saffery Champness.

Moore said the government's pledge to implement the tax credit system "reaffirmed its commitment to the U.K.’s creative industries."

Added Moore: "In the TV industry, a 25 percent tax relief will help the U.K. to remain truly competitive with other international incentives and the additional attraction of our world-class talent, facilities and intellectual property will mean that the U.K. will soon become one of the world’s most popular filmmaking destinations for high-end drama."

A Wiggin/RSM Tenon report earlier this year estimated that the TV tax credit could generate an additional direct production spend of at least $564 million (£350 million) per year in the U.K.

Directors U.K., the fee-collecting and lobbying group for British movie and television directors launched in 2008, also jumped on Osborne's pledge.

Repping over 4,500 TV and film directors, the organization welcomed the introduction through the British parliament.

Directors U.K. CEO Andrew Chowns said: "The legislation is vital to encourage investment and growth in the creative industries and will offer employment opportunities for a wealth of home-grown talent.”

The group also took the opportunity to trumpet plans to pump cash into skills training and development for the TV and film workforce.

Chowns added: "Ensuring that the U.K. has the skills and talent to attract international productions to the U.K. is essential. The announcement of additional funding from the government, and the industry, to develop the creative workforce will ensure that the U.K. has a continuing availability of world-class British talent."

His views were echoed by the British Film Institute's CEO Amanda Nevill.

"Filmmaking skills in the U.K. are the envy of the world and are the bedrock of our vibrant film industry. This [$9.7 million] funding is great news for the whole creative economy and for the talent of the future, including the film industry and others such as those for video games, animation and high end TV."

Nevill noted that skills development "sits at the very heart of the BFI’s five-year plan for film and we look forward to continuing to work with Creative Skillset as a key strategic partner to ensure we stimulate and grow the U.K.’s film industry and film culture, meet the demands of the future and remain world-class."

Back in March, Osborne said the tax credit for TV and video would help keep such shoots in Britain and "also attract top international investors like Disney and HBO to make more of their premium shows in the U.K."

Such a credit would help keep British TV programs such Birdsong, starring Eddie Redmayne, Matthew Goode and Clemence Poesy (and backed by NBCUniversal and Working Title TV), from shooting abroad.