The U.K. has finalized its insurance solution for domestic film and TV production, with a £500 million ($647 million) fund set up to boost the industry.
Variety was first to reveal in May that a government-backed fund estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of pounds was being proposed by an industry taskforce.
The proposal effectively asked government for a guarantee around coverage for suspension or abandonment costs relating to COVID-19.
Details of the funding, are expected imminently from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). It is anticipated that the funding should be available to all productions where at least 50% of the budget is spent in the U.K. There is no upper budget limit on the contributions, Variety understands, thus helping several high-end U.K. productions restart production.
John McVay, chief executive of U.K. trade org Pact, led the industry’s working group on insurance as part of the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force — a group that has worked diligently on potential solutions for the last three months. In the last few months, McVay has insisted, however, that the ball has been firmly in the Treasury’s court.
Commenting on the announcement, McVay said: “This very welcome news shows that the U.K. government has listened to one of our key industries and has taken unprecedented steps to support our highly successful indigenous film and TV production and broadcasting industry to get back to what we love most — making TV programs and films enjoyed by U.K. audiences and many more millions around the globe.
“This will not only help many hundreds of small companies across the U.K., but also the many thousands of freelancers who have been furloughed to get back to work along with those who sadly weren’t able to benefit from the government’s interventions.”
McVay said more than 500 companies said at the beginning of lockdown that they only had enough reserves for 3-6 months.
Ben Roberts, chief executive of the BFI, said: “Given the significant contribution of film and TV production to the U.K. economy, there has been a huge joint effort on the part of government and industry to get production restarted. The issue of securing coronavirus-related insurance quickly emerged as the biggest hurdle for independent producers — and a major priority for the Screen Sector Taskforce — so the government’s £500 million scheme is really great news for our production business, jobs and for the economy.”
Sara Geater, chair of Pact and COO of All3Media, added: “The U.K. indie sector had a very strong 2019, making award-winning series for both the U.K. and U.S. markets. We have been very badly hit by COVID-19 and the support of the government at this time is critical and hugely appreciated. Our sector now has every chance of a return to being the successful global industry that we are renowned for.”
Along with U.K. broadcasters, Pact involved many leading production companies in the negotiations including the following senior executive from scripted and factual production, such as Hakan Kousetta, chief operating officer for See-Saw Films, and Martin Haines, managing director of Kudos.
Kousetta said, “This is exactly the shot in the arm the TV and film industry has been waiting for. This intervention will allow production companies to get going again and thereby ensure that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of production spend can be applied to British jobs and services.”
Haines added, “This is a decisive and timely intervention which turns the lights back on and is an absolute gamechanger for recovery of the TV and film industries and the thousands of people who work in them.”