Irish producers make plea for Film Board funding restoration

Also want the TV licence fee to be scrapped in favour of a household media charge...

Irish producers make plea for Film Board funding restoration

Ian West / PA

Screen Producers Ireland (SPI) has called for funding of the Irish Film Board funding to be almost doubled to its pre-recession level of €20 million.

Funding for film, animation and television projects in the country currently stands at €11.2m, having been cut 44% by the Government since 2008.

In its pre-budget submission, the SPI warns that employment opportunities will be lost if the board continues to be inadequately resourced.

SPI represents 130 independent film and production companies in Ireland.

Its chief executive, Barbara Galavan, said:

“It is crucial that Irish Film Board funding is restored to €20 million so that Irish producers can compete on a level playing field with their international counterparts.

“Supporting all forms of on screen production has important economic, cultural and tourism benefits and must be prioritised.”

The SPI also wants the Government to reinstate plans to replace the tradition television licence fee with a new household media charge.

Citing the fact that the amount of Irish households without a television has risen from 2.5% in 2009 to 8% today, Galavan said:

“The current structure of imposing a fee for public service broadcasting based on TV ownership is outdated and must be changed to reflect the impact of new technology on consumption patterns.

“Our public service broadcasters, RTÉ and TG4, need security of funding to meet their obligations under the Broadcasting Act and should not be reliant on advertising and commercial revenues."

The Government has also been asked to extend the Section 481 tax credit for film and television production.

Though it is not due to expire until 2020, the lengthy production times involved in the sector requires clarity around the issue.

Speaking to newstalk.com recently, Paul Young of Cartoon Saloon – a Kilkenny-based animation study with two Oscar nomination under its belt – said that while the Department of Arts and RTÉ could have done more for the industry over the years, he's had nothing but positive experiences with the Irish Film Board.

"They do a fantastic job with the money they have and they're big supporters of animation," Young said.

"Even though they have in in their mandate that they're a 'film' board, they're trying to change more to be like a screen and content board, which is great to see."