CMC Animation Exchange – Panel: Working in the Real World
Genevieve Dexter Serious Lunch
Sarah Muller CBBC Acquisitions and Drama Development
Jackie Edwards CBeebies Acquisitions
Greg Lynn Adrenalynn
A lively panel discussion, this time exploring the tax incentive’s compatibility with other forms of funding, and looking at its relationship to UK broadcasters and platform providers. The tone echoed back to Oli’s keynote, balancing a feeling of celebration at reaching a successful conclusion to the lobbying process, with a reminder that we’re still at the beginning of new journey. There was plenty of food for thought around the work still to be done and concerns that need to be addressed. There was also a reminder on the importance of clarity throughout the process, and ensuring that crossed wires, particularly around lead companies in co-pro situations, don’t mean missing out on the relief.
Jackie Edwards gave a useful CBeebies perspective, celebrating the fact that the new initiative will make fundraising easier, but acknowledging that there is still a battle on for financing and selection. CBeebies currently take approximately 4 projects from up to the 1000 pitched each year, contributing between 10-24% of production costs, once a project is taken. So while the tax break will help, it won’t always complete the funding story. However, animation continues to be an important genre for the channel and the good news is that BBC budgets will not reduce in the face of the new funds available via the tax break. One of the challenges at CBeebies is the limited quota (currently 20%) for acquisitions, and that new shows must compete for space with an already large back library.
She urged people to go to http://consultations.external.bbc.co.uk/bbc/childrens_review to register the need to increase the quota for CBeebies to reflect the increase in UK animation production.
Sarah Muller backed up Jackie’s points from a CBBC point of view, with a reassurance that CBBC are not planning to lower budgets to reflect the increased relief available. She also pointed out that the tax break is not seen as a subsidiary for broadcasters and that the BBC are not eligible to access the tax break, it is all for producers. She reminded us that proof of financing is of utmost importance for new projects and CBBC will not sign off without it.
Greg Lynn offered some positive insights to the new tax relief, highlighting that it means we can now do more of the work in the UK and send less overseas. He emphasised the importance of clear and correct communication about the tax relief and urged people to use the resources available to help understand the processes thoroughly. He feels assured that it is in place to create wealth and employment in the UK and shouldn’t be seen as a stumbling block when it comes to the application process. Again the advice from the panel was to use experts where necessary and Sarah added that the BBC would require independent financial specialists to be involved in the process.
Genevieve Dexter stressed the importance of deciding on the lead UK company in co-production situations warning that any lack of clarity could mean losing out on the relief. She also commented on the value of creating Special Purpose Vehicles as the company to take the tax benefit.
The panel raised an interesting question in terms of moving forwards. Greg Boardman asked what the forum is for continuing sharing of information. On the back of the industry energy currently in play, how best to engage in regular industry knowledge sharing sessions, including information on broadcasters, banks, investors etc? Discussion of investment and cash-flow highlighted a concern about investors and licensees reducing contributions in light of the increased funds available to producers through the tax break, or for potentially higher prices from companies charging for cash flow solutions.
It was noted that the tax break is not a finite pot of funds to fight over. It is essentially open-ended, so the more applications the better.
The panel emphasised the need for the industry to use this opportunity wisely. It was agreed to be an opportunity to continue to share information, work together and look at solutions to solve issues around investor concerns and cashflow, perhaps even taking ownership of those areas ourselves.