INDUS TRY. BRIEFINGS
How is Brexit affecting film & TV production?
WORDS. Chelsea Fearnley
A s expected, the Brexit deal hasn’t changed too much for the film and TV industries. Arguably, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement’s main achievement is the allowance of tariff-free and quote-free trade of goods between the UK and the EU, which has limited impact for the creative industries. However, there are a few key points to note. Pre-Brexit, UK citizens could work in Europe without a permit, and vice versa. This meant British crew employed on international productions, like Game of Thrones , could easily travel around Europe to shooting locations in Spain and Croatia. But the new deal only allows UK citizens to visit the EU (and vice versa) for 90 days within a 180-day period. This allowance applies to tourism and certain business trips, such as attending conferences, trade fairs and consultancy meetings. Crucially, providing creative services, or working abroad for the fulfilment of a contract, are not included. The BFI had hoped the Brexit deal might extend the forms of business trip to cover activities relevant to film and TV production, but this was largely not the case. So, for any work to be undertaken in the EU, producers have to look at the rules for each member state to see if a visa is required. There has been plenty of press coverage about how the 90-day allowance for business visits does not cover musicians on tour. They will need a visa
unless member states’ individual rules allow for visa-free entry. The industry is already lobbying for this to be changed. Many musicians, including Sir Elton John and Ed Sheeran, have signed a letter published in The Times that said: “The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be. Everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment.” For film and TV production, the Brexit deal specifically states that professional equipment can be transported between the UK and EU on a temporary basis, with “total conditional relief from import duties and without application of import restrictions or economic prohibitions”. According to the BFI, though, this means ATA Carnets will still be required. And there are new rules on heavy-load trailers, which could affect talent trailers being driven to the EU. AXING BRITISH TV Beyond production, the EU is looking into how it can reduce the “disproportionate” amount of UK content on European TV and streaming services, in the wake of Brexit. As per The Guardian , an EU document filed 8 June cites the continued inclusion of UK productions in EU quotas, despite the country no longer being an EU member state, as an unfair privilege that hurts “cultural diversity”.
The quotas apply to broadcasters and VOD platforms, coming under the European Audiovisual Observatory; they dictate that TV channels must largely show European programming, and VOD platforms must contain at least 30% of such content. This figure is higher in some countries. Currently, British shows like The Crown qualify, allowing streamers to fulfil the quotas with those programmes. Large- scale UK productions are often pre-sold into Europe as a key fundraising method. The rules around which countries qualify under the quotas is due to be assessed in the summer of 2024. But it is thought that France taking over the EU presidency in January next year could kick-start the process. It currently enforces the strictest content quotas in the continent. If the UK were removed from inclusion, i.e. defined as non-European, it could serve as a serious blow to UK producers, with content less appealing to European broadcasters – and streamers that need to meet the criteria. According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, the UK provides half the European TV content presence of VOD in the continent, and UK works are the most actively promoted on VOD (the lowest EU27 share of promotion spots is also found in the UK). The industry has long feared the EU would seek to undermine UK dominance of the audiovisual market once the country had left the bloc. It seems now that this is only a matter of time.
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