No matter how you are feeling about the looming eventuality of Britain leaving the European Union, if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s uncertainty.
We shall try here to discern some possible outcomes and impacts on the media and film industry…
– Firstly, as so many of the consequences are yet to be determined there will undoubtedly be a period of instability. Investment and stocks have already taken a substantial hit – please let us know if you’ve any personal experience of this – but until the terms of our exit are secured we have no way of knowing how warranted this withdrawal of capital will prove to be.
– The enormous funding from Creative Europe/MEDIA will undoubtedly take a massive dent. €100m in funding supplied the UK film industry from the EU between 2007-2013. As with many of these negative points they depend on how well Britain can negotiate new deals, so although we certainly won’t receive anywhere near this amount again, there are other non-EU countries who still benefit from Creative Europe funding and other such initiatives.
– The government will have a blank slate for incentives and film subsidies. Changes to current government initiatives must be approved by the EU and must favour all Europeans equally. Outside the EU, UK tax breaks could revert to prioritising those productions with more British involvement.
– Fewer UK films will be distributed in Europe, and fewer international films will be distributed in the UK.
EU funding supports both the export of British films across the EU and allows productions from other European countries to show here that otherwise would not have the budget to do so.
– Potentially it could become cheaper to shoot in the UK for other countries. A substantially weakened pound could make the UK an attractive place for foreign productions to shoot and bring work, especially as we boast a strong infrastructure and pool of skilled workers in the field. Though this is by no means assured and would arguably be a very slim thin lining to all the other downsides of having a devalued currency.
– British programmes will be harder to sell abroad. This is almost certain, as many countries have quotas which allocate large fixed percentages of their programming for EU-based content.
– Non-involvement in the Digital Single Market, and no UK say in the policy reforms of European TV and film distribution.
This new initiative, though not yet fully put into practice, seeks to create a unified marketplace for businesses trading online, with less barriers and obstacles, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Also improving Europe-wide terms for authors of original content and reformed copyright legislation.
– Independent UK cinemas are likely to take a hit. 56 British independent cinemas receive funding from the EU Europa scheme in exchange for committing 67% of their programming to European productions.
Without wishing to paint an overly-negative picture of the referendum’s outcome, the current forecasts are not looking too rosy, though there is a lot still up for grabs in the UK’s exit negotiations. The abolition of EU law in Britain may also enable the government to lay new ground for the industry, and they will surely wish to preserve that which contributes a substantial £4.6bn to Britain’s GDP.