On our last week’s Focus we had a look at the potential reduction of funding on behalf of the European Union, and, more precisely, Creative Europe (and its MEDIA program) after the Brexit. This question highlighted the importance of securing funding in order to ensure the continuity of the cooperation between the UK and the EU in the audiovisual industry.
Thankfully, we did not have to wait for too long before our question got an answer: last week, on March 28th, the UK government unveiled a £150m ‘sector deal’ for the creative industries. Conceived as a long-term plan to strengthen the productivity and earning power in the UK, and as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, a big percentage of the deal will be distributed as it follows: the Arts and Humanities Research Council will invest £39m of these £150m in eight “creative research and development partnerships across Britain”, while other £33m will be destined to immersive technology products, services, and experiences. Considering that, as we mentioned in the previous article, the UK will remain in Creative Europe at least until 2020, now the uncertainty lies upon whether this £150m sector deal will be used only in addition to the Creative Europe funding or as a means to compensate a possible lack of such after Brexit.
This new light on the so-discussed issue of funding has also given us some clues on how the situation for the other sources of concern will unfold, that is, the future for the access to talent, for a possible loss of export and for the regulatory environment. Regarding talent, the latest news has revealed that the UK government will destine an extra £2m to fund industry-led skills packages, among which there is a creative career program aimed at reaching more than 2,000 schools and 600,000 students.
Moreover, Matt Hancock, British secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, when discussing the sector deal, declared that “our creative industries will help to develop the talent of the future, ensure people are rightly rewarded for their creative content and give our firms the support they need to compete on the global stage. Millions of people around the world enjoy our world-class artistic and cultural output and we want Britain to stay a frontrunner in these vibrant sectors.”
That is the reason for which maintaining the workforce flow between the UK and Europe is of utmost importance. Also considering that, for instance, on a survey conducted by the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) last year, a whole 75% of 250 businesses confirmed that they employ EU nationals, while almost the same percentage claimed that they could not fill those job positions with local workers. Just in the UK’s visual-effects industry, these employees make up to 30% of the workforce. The CIF itself, in its last Global Talent Report, emphasized the need for clarification on the status of EU citizens who live in the UK and for the negotiation of visa exemptions when crossing borders for short-term projects, such as film shoots.
Otherwise, we risk that the number of actors, directors and production workers relocating their activity in the EU territory might drastically increase. As a response to this critical possibility, the British Parliament has echoed the need for clarification on citizenship and visa negotiations, and it has been pointed out that “simplicity should be a key feature of the future migration arrangements”, and that “the government should seek to retain free movement of people during any transitional period after the UK formally ceases to be a member of the EU in March 2019”.
Moving now to the threat of a potential loss of exports for the UK audiovisual sector, concerns seem to be focused on the question whether British films and television works produced after Brexit will still qualify for EU broadcast quotas. It would be potentially disadvantageous for UK productions to have to compete with the rest of the world as a non-EU distributor. The biggest fear now is that the EU decided to impose tariffs on UK films and TV productions so as to boost their own. However, the indications are that this is unlikely to happen, thanks to the key presence of the UK communications regulator Ofcom in the market.
At the moment, more than 650 non-British channels are licensed by Ofcom before being able to broadcast freely in all the countries in the EU. The next question would be, at that point, what would happen if all those channels (not to mention overseas producers, distributors and other agents in the market) have to find a new “country of origin” in the EU to broadcast and distribute their products.This takes us to our last focus of post-Brexit concerns: the future of the regulatory environment. According to the International Federation of Film Archives, the “country of origin” is defined as the country where the main offices of the production company by which a certain audiovisual content was created are located. This set of laws is what allows TV companies to broadcast throughout the EU by complying with the rules of the EU country in which they are based. Currently, when broadcasters from outside the EU wish to establish a European headquarters, they can decide to place it in the UK, as many companies already do. For this reason, during the last meeting of the Digital Culture, Media and Sports Committee of the British House of Commons, it was also noted that “the Country of Origin principle should endure in the UK after Brexit, so that media companies based here do not face new hurdles, or feel compelled to move their operations to another European country”.
It is very possible, however, that a London-based international broadcaster might have to get new broadcasting licenses within the EU, together with a stronger editorial presence that it is yet far from clear.
Likewise, there are many other concerns that are still being addressed in the ongoing negotiations, but it is undeniable that the future for audiovisual industries after the Brexit seems now much more optimistic, and the consequences seem likely to be less “disastrous” than what many had foreseen only a few months ago. It is highly probable that by next year, during the new edition of the Mia|Co-production Market, all these concerns and uncertainties will just belong to the past.
Edited by MIA. Sources:
House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2018, Jan. 25). The Potential Impact of Brexit on the Creative Industries, Tourism and the Digital Single Market: Second Report of Session 2017-19.
D’Arcy, C. (2016, Sept. 26). Brexit and the audio-visual sector – facing up to life outside the single market. Global Counsel. Retrieved from https://www.global-counsel.co.uk
Vivarelli, N. (2017, August 2). Rome’s MIA Gathering to Look at Post-Brexit TV Co-Production Prospects. Variety. Retrieved from http://variety.com/
Mayes, J. (2017, Oct. 19). Brexit: British film and TV industries facing ‘catastrophic’ consequences of EU exit, lobby group warns. Independent. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk
Parfitt, O. (2017, Oct. 23). ‘I wonder when the bubble will burst’: BBC execs on high-end drama challenges. Screendaily. Retrieved from https://www.screendaily.com
Snoddy, R. (2017, Nov. 17). Brexit: What leaving the EU could mean for the broadcast industry. IB365. Retrieved from https://www.ibc.org
Hopewell, J. (2018, March 5). E.U.’s Media Program Begins Battle to Secure Future: The large question is just how much E.U. funding it can attract for the future. Variety. Retrieved from http://variety.com/
Grater, T. (2018, March 29). Film industry reacts to £150m creative sector deal: ‘a recognition of our importance’. Screendaily. Retrieved from https://www.screendaily.com