UK film-makers want to retain their government subsidies - and not pay back. Given that they get massive tax breaks too, and they want Internet companies to contribute to the cost of censorship of copyrighted content, should they get so much public funding?
In these austere times, a group of UK film producers is pleading with the government to subsidise film production. The film industry already gets government funding which is effectively a loan, as it has to be re-paid out of revenues. The film producers are now asking to be able to keep the money.
A letter to the Daily Telegraph, from the film producers club known as PACT, suggests "that the public sector should leave any returns with the production companies" and not ask for any money to be returned to the public purse.
But their pleadings hide the real problem in the film industry, which emerged through achink in an interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning, where a film producer argued with a distributor - the real problem is that the producers take the risk on making the film but the distributors get first cut of any cash that is raised. Therefore, the producers very often do not make much money, but the distributors never lose.
The interview makes it clear that this letter is part of an industry internal fight over who should get what share of the profits. It also reminds us of the huge tax breaks enjoyed by the film industry under the Labour government.
Why is this important? The film-makers argue that the money they get will contribute to the UK economy and it is important to have a strong UK film industry. But the distributors are not from the UK - they are the Hollywood studios - and what this means is that the cash raised goes to prop up their shareholder value and its contribution to the UK economy is much less than would seem.
Morevoer, their claims are fallacious. A non-refundable subsidy would mean that they would never be accountable for loss-making films, and would be able to squeeze a never-ending tap of public funds.
The argument that the film-producers put forward therefore, is just a thin veil. Any non-returnable money given to these producers is just a licence to make whatever film they want, with no public accountability, and to grease the wheels of Hollywood. The government should lift the veil and look the industry in the face, before making any decisions.
No to mention that these are the people that want us all to be censored to protect ‘their' copyright.
Read the letter from the film producers (PACT) to the Daily Telegraph (scroll )
The BBC Radio 4 interview (I am not sure if people outside the UK can listen to this, but if you can, it is worth it).This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) Give us State subsidies, say UK film-makers http://www.iptegrity.com 22 June 2010