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President Zelensky pledges support for film, TV production sector at Content Ukraine

CONTENT UKRAINE: Ukraine’s TV industry has “very high” potential thanks to advantages like low production costs, but more investment needs to be made in infrastructure, the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky told C21.

Volodymyr Zelensky

Speaking exclusively at C21’s Content Ukraine On Demand event today, Zelensky, who is a former TV actor, screenwriter, producer and director, said lower production costs in the country make it a competitive market and that with the right government support its TV industry can thrive.

“With the correct position and the correct motivation for business and the government, the potential of Ukraine is very high. We are not in the EU and we are not in the Schengen area. We do not share currency, so we are very competitive because of the inexpensive talent in terms of cost. You can make films or develop cultural industries in Ukraine with less investment – everything is a little bit cheaper to do. You can make 10 or 100 times more [content] in Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

“The economy in Ukraine is on the rise – it’s emerging, maybe not as quickly as we hoped, but vertically and steeply. There are some risks of course, but there are more advantages.”

With a personal interest in the industry, as former CEO at Kiev-based TV studio Kvartal 95, the president added that he will support the sector’s growth, highlighting a need for investment in the infrastructure needed to produce TV and film projects, as well as expanding filmmaking education in Ukraine.

“As a president with a background in filmmaking, I am going to support the film and TV industry, and all the creative industries for that matter. We are about to implement a big strategy for development of the film industry in Ukraine, not just to support content but also for intellectual rights and the protection of those rights,” he said.

“We have more locations to shoot films than we have infrastructure and sets for production, so we should pave the way to investment into the infrastructure, and into filmmaking. Many people are self-educated and professional education should be expanded in Ukraine.”

Zelensky – who was voted in as president after playing a character in a TV show that beats the odds to get voted president – also suggested the government could subsidise the costs of pay TV and VoD subscriptions for those who cannot afford the full amount, in order to help the production industry develop, in a similar way to the state subsiding part of a mortgage loan.

“The creative industry is not different from any other sector or business in Ukraine. If the economy is all right and GDP is growing and consumers can pay for content, the industry should grow. If people cannot afford pay TV, the industry cannot develop,” he said.

“The market can give you a loan with 24% for a mortgage arrangement, but the state compensates so that it is 10% instead of 24%, otherwise people wouldn’t get mortgages and help develop the real estate industry. Filmmaking is no different. If you cannot buy a [cinema] ticket or subscribe monthly to a platform, what you can’t afford should be compensated for by the state. This provides money for production so that people can create high quality content.”

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