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Euro AV bodies urge more gov’t support

An alliance of eight European audiovisual associations, including CEPI and Animation in Europe, has called for more governmental support for the ailing sector.

Representing producers’ associations, trade unions, guilds and professional bodies in film and TV production, the alliance has demanded “rapid, targeted and coordinated action” in support of audiovisual businesses and workers from national governments, international and regional inter-governmental organisations and cultural funding bodies.

As well as Animation in Europe and CEPI, the group includes the International Federation of Actors, the Federation of European Film Directors, Eurocinema, FIAPF, the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe and the Media, Entertainment & Arts arm of the UNI Global Union.

“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 of and behind the 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,” said the alliance.

“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.”

The alliance said “easy and swift access to exceptional financial support to cover fixed costs in the forthcoming weeks and months” was required to keep audiovisual companies afloat. This support should be in the form of subsidies rather than loans, it added.

Recommendations from the alliance include tailoring economic relief and stimulus packages to the specific needs of project-based, irregular business cycles. Tax regimes need to be adapted and payments of employers’ social security contributions should be postponed where necessary, it said.

Governments are being asked to back up insurance claims from producers for interrupted shooting, while funding bodies are being asked to adapt their rules to support interrupted projects and be flexible when it comes to project applications.

Once the crisis is over, special funding should be made available to stimulate production and distribution and direct subsidies need to be granted to help cover immediate fixed costs, including employment, according to the alliance, which added that subsidies should be preferred to loans.

The group also stated that most of Europe’s cast and crew are either employed on short-term contracts or hired as independent contractors so “do not have enough social benefits to fall back on during this crisis.”

It therefore also recommended that all workers in the sector, including freelance and self-employed individuals, 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 instructions should not come at the expense of their accrued leave entitlements or access to social benefits and sick pay, it said.

The alliance is the latest, and perhaps the largest, trade group from the audiovisual sector to call for more support from governments as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates around the world.

According to data released by Johns Hopkins University yesterday, more than a million cases of Covid-19 have been recorded around the world, representing a doubling of global cases in eight days. Approximately 22% of all cases have been recorded in the US, while Italy and Spain account for 11% each. China, where the virus began, now accounts for just 8% of cases worldwide.

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