08/11/2004

Northern Irish language film sector outperforms Southern

Northern Ireland’s Irish language film production sector will continue to out perform its Southern counterpart's output unless a number of measures are implemented by the Irish Government, a producer’s union in the Republic of Ireland has claimed.

Screen Producers Ireland (SPI) has called on the Irish government to introduce a number of measures to help promote the independent film and television production sector in the country.

As well as looking for increased funding for the Irish Film Board, it also urged the government to establish a fund to support Irish language producers, to provide extra funding to TG4 and to continue to examine the film investment tax incentive schemes offered in other countries and to remove the cap on investment in feature film.

According to SPI Director Malcolm Byrne, such measures are essential if the industry is to develop in the next year. "With the various initiatives that are being introduced in the North to promote Irish language programming, the government needs to act now if they are to protect the State's investment in Irish language television production,” Mr Byrne said. “We believe a dedicated fund should be established to support producers of Irish language television programmes, as is the case in Northern Ireland with the establishment of the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

"This would involve a combination of programme specific grant aid and repayable loans. Without these measures we will see the Northern companies forging ahead at the expensive of production companies in the South. They will have the resources and revenue, thanks to the funding measures introduced in Northern Ireland, to undercut companies in the South when it comes to tendering for commissions and will be more likely to receive those commissions as a result. The government must do all in their power to ensure there is a level playing field in this regard.”

SPI said it was also urging Irish Minister for Finance Brian Cowan to provide more funding for TG4 so the station can increase the proportion of original Irish language programming it broadcasts everyday.

Currently the Galway based station broadcasts for 19 hours per day, but only 3.2 hours (or under 19%) is original Irish language programming.

(MB/GB)

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