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Fighting the global COVID-19 crisis in the film and TV production sector

Industry News

Fighting the global COVID-19 crisis in the film and TV production sector

 

The undersigned international and regional organisations representing producers’

associations, trade unions, guilds and professional organisations affiliating talent and crew

in film and TV production call on national governments, international and regional intergovernmental organisations and cultural funding bodies to take rapid, targeted and

coordinated action in support of businesses and all workers – staff, freelance and selfemployed – in response to the devastating economic and social impact of the global COVID19 crisis on our industrial sector.

 

The global COVID-19 crisis has brought all film and TV production to a sudden stop around

the world. Thousands of businesses, most of them SMEs, have been impacted by this crisis

and millions of workers operating in front and behind camera have already lost, or are at risk

of losing their jobs, either temporarily or, in the worst case, permanently. Millions of other

jobs that are linked to the economic activity generated by our sector are also affected.

 

Solidarity within the audiovisual ecosystem and from policy-makers are the two pillars to

sustain the global film and TV sector amid this crisis.

 

We welcome the initiatives taken by national unions, companies and other bodies to set-up

and/or contribute to relief funds as well as film agencies’ prompt responses and appeal to

other stakeholders in our industry to do whatever it takes to support all those affected by this

crisis. However, the industry cannot by itself absorb the full scale of this unprecedented

crisis.

 

To weather this critical period, the film and TV production sector also needs governments,

international and regional inter-governmental organisations and cultural funding bodies to

provide vital support by taking extraordinary measures. We note that several countries,

regional authorities and the EU institutions are taking relief measures to sustain our

economies and we call on all decision makers to act swiftly in the coming days and weeks to

make them also fit for the urgent needs of the film and TV production sector. These include

crucial measures with respect to state aid, taxation and social security.

 

What is immediately needed is an easy and swift access to exceptional financial support to

cover fixed costs in the forthcoming weeks and months. This is one of the main conditions

to respond to the immediate urgency: preserving companies in the audiovisual sector, as well

as workers and skills, for the post-COVID-19.

 

To support businesses and the economic sustainability of the entire sector, we recommend

in particular that:

 

• Economic relief and stimulus packages are directed and tailored to the specific needs and

practices of the project-based nature and irregular business cycles of the sector.

• Temporary and non-restrictive frameworks addressing state aid are put in place in a swift

manner. Tax regimes are adapted during the crisis to ease pressure on companies and

workers alike.

• Payment of employers’ social security contributions are postponed wherever necessary.

• Funding bodies and governments back up insurance claims from film and TV producers

for interrupted shootings in the event of damages resulting from compliance with

COVID-19 safety measures.

• Funding bodies adapt their rules to provide the best possible support for interrupted

projects and provide flexibility with respect to project applications.

• Special funding is made available to stimulate production and distribution post-COVID19, including via film funding bodies’ support and tax credits. Significant efforts will be

required to foster production companies’ ability to develop new projects.

• Direct subsidies are granted to help cover immediate fixed costs, including employment,

while ensuring that they rest above and beyond production and distribution support from

funding bodies. Subsidies should be preferred to loans. Loan guarantees do not fit with

specificities of the audiovisual sector : many production companies cannot provide

securities/collateral to the extent required for loans since IP rights are not qualified as

collateral.

• Compensation for the loss of funding based on cinema tickets is granted and channelled

to funding bodies.

 

The backbone of the sector are the people in front and behind camera. Due to specificities of

the audiovisual sector, most cast and crew are either employed on short-term contracts or are

engaged as independent contractors. Many of them may do not have enough social benefits

to fall back on during this crisis and may thus face a critical situation.

 

To support these workers during this crisis and its economic fallout, and to prepare for post-COVID-19 by securing that workforce and skills remain at the level experienced until now, we recommend

in particular that:

 

• All workers in our sector, including freelance and self-employed, are equally

encompassed by economic and social relief packages directed to the film and TV sector

with a view to retaining employment and skills.

• Workers’ compliance with stay-at-home confinement injunctions does not come at the

expense of their accrued leave entitlements.

• Short-time work measures are tailored to this unprecedented crisis with a view to

retaining as many film and TV workers in employment as possible and sustain their

income during the crisis.

• Access to social benefits and sick pay is guaranteed without restrictions or waiting periods

for all workers and entry thresholds lowered or otherwise adapted. Temporary loss of

employment due to confinement measures does not prejudice access to such benefits.

• Access to unemployment benefits is extended to withstand the length and protracted

effects of the crisis and qualifying periods revised to absorb the full length of inactivity

due to compliance with confinement measures.

• Funds for freelance and self-employed workers in our sector are set up by public

authorities to compensate for lost income due to sickness, family care duties or

confinement measures that cannot be compensated otherwise.

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