In response to the national lockdown measures introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, film and television production within the UK ceased to a significant extent. Many production businesses suffered significant losses as a result of delaying or abandoning existing and planned productions. Following the subsequent easing of these lockdown measures, many producers were unable to restart or, for new productions, commence production due to the lack of availability of insurance coverage for COVID-19 related risks, which prevented them from accessing funding. The aggregate value of compensation available under the Scheme to meet all requests is a total of £500 million.
What is the Film and Television Restart Scheme?
The objective of the Scheme is to support the film and television industry to restart production in the UK. Many film and television producers have been unable to self-insure or access insurance or indemnity in the commercial market on commercially viable terms. The Scheme makes direct compensation available to eligible film and television producers that have incurred losses during the course of producing eligible productions as a result of certain COVID-19 related risks.
The Scheme is to be established by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”) and DCMS will meet all payment commitments under the Scheme under section 8 of the Industrial Development Act 1982.
Who is the scheme available to?
The Scheme is available to:
- Pre-existing eligible productions which have had to delay or cease production and have been unable to restart
- New eligible productions which have been unable to commence production
The scheme is available to any producer or co-producer (an ‘eligible participant’) that is either a company resident in the UK or partnership whose profits are subject to tax in the UK. This eligible participant must complete a registration process for the eligible production.
What are the criteria for an “eligible” production?
An eligible production must meet all of the following:
(A) is produced solely by that Eligible Participant or by that Eligible Participant and one or more Co-producers (whether or not such Co-producers are Eligible Participants)
(B) will incur at least fifty per cent. (50%) of the Production Budget on UK Expenditure
(C) meets the Cultural Test
(D) meets the Commercial Viability Criteria; and
(E) is not an Excluded Production,
Which productions are in-eligible for, or excluded from, the scheme?
(A) productions involving the reporting or discussion of news or current affairs, which are broadcast live.
(B) productions that provide coverage of live events (including sport) or theatrical, musical or artistic performances given otherwise than for the purpose of being filmed
(C) productions that are filmed in front of a paying live audience.
(D) productions that are advertisements or other promotional programmes.
(E) productions that are produced for training purposes that will not be publicly broadcast.
(F) productions that are Pornographic in nature.
What other criteria does an eligible production need to meet?
An Eligible Participant must at all times comply with a number of social commitments and commercially viable criteria. These are to ensure that the participant is not able to obtain insurance cover for Covid-19 and has obtained insurance to cover other aspects of the production.
When can an eligible participant apply for compensation?
This eligible participant must complete a registration process for the eligible production between the launch date (yet to be announced) and 31st December.
Eligible Participants may only apply for compensation under the Scheme in respect of Cast Losses and Civil Authority Losses that are incurred on or after the Effective Date but prior to the Closure Date. Those participants must provide evidence of the following Covid-19 testing requirements:
(A) a PCR Test approved for use by the MHRA (or, if the individual is outside of the UK, by the equivalent competent authority in the relevant jurisdiction where the individual is situated) was either: (i) self-administered by the individual after being received via post; or (ii) administered to the individual by an appropriately trained healthcare professional at a licensed medical practice or government-operated COVID-19 testing facility as soon as reasonably practicable (but in any event within the period of 48 hours) following the onset of the relevant individual’s COVID-19 symptoms or the individual otherwise being required to self-isolate or quarantine;
(B) all reasonable steps were taken by the Eligible Participant to ensure that the results of the test were obtained as soon as practicable thereafter; and
(C) in circumstances where the test result delivered was negative for COVID-19, the Eligible Participant ensures that the relevant individual commenced or continued (as applicable) their duties in the production as soon as practicable thereafter.
Compensation under the Scheme is subject to an excess of either £1,000 or a sum equal to 10% of the value of the Eligible Losses – whichever is the greater
The draft rules for the Scheme provide for certain limits to the compensation payable, as follows:
- for Cast Losses relating to the interruption, postponement or abandonment following the death or critical illness of the Immediate Family Member of a Named Person resulting from COVID-19, the Losses incurred in respect of five (5) consecutive days of production;
- in respect of any other interruption or postponement, 20% of the Production Budget or, in the case of a co-production, 20% of that Producer’s Financial Interest in the Eligible Production; and
- in respect of any other abandonment, 70% of the Production or, in the case of a co-production, 70% of the Producer’s financial interest in the production, subject to a maximum of £5 million per production.
Is there a fee?
The fee for participating in the scheme will be 1% of the production budget or 1% of the aggregate value of the financial interests of each co-producer who is eligible to participate in the scheme.
When will the scheme be available?
The launch date had not yet been published. The commencement of the scheme is conditional upon the European Commission providing state aid approval and while draft scheme rules have been published, these are subject to change.