Tuesday, November 08, 2011

BECTU Calls On Government To Support UK Animation

From BECTU (The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union) Magazine:
BECTU calls on government to support UK animation

A new report has warned that Britain's animation industry is set for a terminal decline unless the government steps in with tax breaks.

According to research set out in Securing the Future of TV Animation in the UK, three-quarters of companies in the sector are either contemplating a move abroad, or have begun moving, to more tax-friendly countries.

Blame for the exodus, according to the report, lies with the UK's tax system, which allows rebates on animation projects for cinema, but not for the 90 per cent of animations destined for broadcast on TV.

France, Canada, and Australia have a system of tax credits, public funding, and broadcast quotas, to support their animation sectors, and even the USA offers tax breaks to some animated productions.

General cutbacks also hurting

Animation companies are also suffering from reduced commissions, partly because of general cutbacks in the TV industry, and also because tighter rules on advertising in children's programmes have reduced the volume of cartoons in the schedules.

BECTU has backed Animation UK, the trade body for the UK industry and publishers of the report, in calling for existing tax breaks for feature films to be extended to animation for TV.

There has also been a demand for better policing of European quotas for the many cartoon-led TV channels like Nickelodeon and The Cartoon channel which do not meet targets for sourcing the majority of their transmitted programmes within the EU.

BECTU general secretary Gerry Morrissey said:

"The report offers solid evidence to reinforce a feeling on the ground that this sector of the audio-visual industry is sinking fast."

In spite of the explosion in computer generated images, over half the companies in the UK's £300m a year animation business still offer traditional drawn and stop-frame techniques, provided by skilled artists among the sector's 4,700 workers. Seventy per cent of the industry is based outside London.

Animation UK and BECTU have begun working jointly to promote the report among politicians, and will be raising concerns about the impact on post-production and computer-gaming if companies continue to move workers with world-class skills out of the UK.

"Without action now", Gerry Morrissey said, "we could be witnessing the end of yet another great British industry which is capable of excelling artistically and commercially, but which needs support urgently."

Interviewed last weekend by the BBC, Mike Bullough, head of TV for Aardman, said there was a crisis in the UK's TV animation industry and he urged the government to review its policy on tax credits to support the sector. "Animation is such a labour-intensive undertaking that by retaining jobs in the UK we increase national insurance receipts, tax receipts, expenditure and VAT receipts and actually a tax credit should be profitable in the long run."

Treasury spokesman Matthew O'Toole, is quoted in the BBC's report as saying: "We recognise the importance of the animation industry and the UK's proud international reputation for excellence in this creative sector. The future support for this is being considered as part of the film policy review, which is expected to report to ministers shortly."

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