Tax break access for documentaries may be increased


Capetown doubling as the British countryside? Fewer UK productions may be filmed abroad if TV tax relief is reformed

The UK government is considering lowering the tax relief threshold for documentaries from £1 million per hour to £650,000 per hour to increase the country’s factual output.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee has published proposals recommending the amendment of  High-end Television Tax Relief, introduced in April 2013 to help factual producers, it was reported in Broadcast magazine.

It follows lobbying led by media group Discovery Communications, which is keen to increase the number of big budget that it orders from the UK. The company believes that more productions will be lured overseas unless the threshold is lowered for documentaries, with programme-makers heading to countries such as South Africa where generous financial incentives are available.

Jane Root, from TV production company Nutopia welcomed the proposals: “We’ve made big drama docs across the world, but especially in South Africa. We even made The British there, with Capetown doubling for British countryside,” she told Broadcast, “this is a chance for us to bring some of that business home.”

However some in the industry believed that the threshold is still too high, as £650,000 would only covering a handful of documentary productions, with the vast majority having much smaller budgets.

Image: Karen McAllister/Creative Commons