U.K. Gov't Attempts Woo Hollywood TV

Blighty's finance chief meets with Hollywood studio bosses

LONDON — The U.K. government is stepping up its effort to woo U.S. TV networks in a drive to lure more Hollywood series to shoot in Blighty.

George Osborne, the U.K.’s chancellor of the exchequer, who is in charge of British finance policy, revealed Monday that he has met with execs from several Hollywood studios this year to tubthump for the U.K. biz, following the government’s move to extend its 25% film tax credit to cover high-end scripted TV content and animation.

“It is an opportunity for all of us to now make a concerted effort to go and sell this around the world,” Osborne said at a showbiz confab at BAFTA in London. “In the last couple of months, I have personally met people from Disney, people from Warner Bros., people from HBO, passionately selling what I think the U.K. now has to offer.

“And I would ask you to join with me in that effort, through all your contacts around the world. Go and tell them the good news that the U.K. has now one of the most competitive tax regimes for the creative industries. This is the place to do your new hit TV show. This is the place to do your excellent animation.”

Osborne said that a moment of epiphany for him had come when he watched a U.K. drama series and then discovered that it had shot in Hungary.

Even without the tax credit, the U.K. already hosts the production of  HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Starz’s “Da Vinci’s Demons,” but it now intends to up the ante and lure productions that would previously have shot in the Czech Republic and Hungary, as did NBC’s “Crossing Lines” and Showtime’s “The Borgias,” respectively.

Osborne said the U.K. should be able to compete with any of these countries when U.S. showbiz companies came to decide where to locate their TV productions.

“We know how in the boardrooms of these great entertainment companies they sit there and work out whether they are going to go to a particular U.S. state, or to Canada or a European location. Well, I want Britain to be at the top of that list. And from what I’ve heard, we’ve got every chance now of being at the top of that list,” he said.

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