Friday 17 November 2017

Scrap TV licence and bring in new 'Household Media Charge' - Irish film makers

Saoirse Ronan in 'Brooklyn', one of the recent success stories of the film industry
Saoirse Ronan in 'Brooklyn', one of the recent success stories of the film industry

Sean Duffy

Film industry executives are calling for a household charge to replace the TV licence fee in a bid to provide extra funding to Ireland's producers.

Screen Producers Ireland (SPI) wants a "Household Media Charge" to boost the industry which has seen its funding fall in recent years. It also called for the restoration of €20m in funding for the Irish Film Board.

SPI's 2017 pre-budget submission echoes calls made last month by the Irish Film Board, which also requested a return of the €20m funding which has been reduced since 2008.

SPI said in its submission that employment opportunities in the Irish film industry would be squandered without improved Government support.

"The indigenous film and TV production sector has suffered from cuts to Irish Film Board funding in recent years. Between 2008 and 2014, IFB funding was decreased by 40pc," SPI ceo Barbara Galavan said.

"This has had a significant negative effect on the film and television production sector, particularly indigenous film-makers who provide much-needed work and opportunities for Irish creative talent. It is crucial that Irish Film Board funding is restored to €20m so that Irish producers can compete on a level playing field with their international counterparts."

SPI also called for an extension of the Section 481 regime which provides taxation relief for companies operating in the film industry here. The scheme is set to expire in 2020.

SPI said RTE and TG4 required extra funding in order to meet their obligations under the Broadcasting Act, and said neither should be dependent on commercial or ad revenues.

Ms Galavan added: "Budget 2017 offers a pivotal opportunity for this government to show it is committed to supporting the creative industries and to nurturing growth in the indigenous production sector. A strategic approach to increasing the funding available to producers will result in significant economic and cultural dividends."

The Government has previously considered the issue of a household charge to assist Irish broadcasters, but decided against the measure. Minister for Communications Denis Naughten is exploring ways of improving license fee collection rates, including the possibility of calling in the Revenue Commissioners to detect evaders.

The Irish Film Board called for the restoration of the €20m Government grant last month, citing the successes of recent hits such as 'Brooklyn' and 'Room'.

Irish films took in an estimated €125m worldwide during 2015/16, which included over 18 miliion admissions.

Irish Independent

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