Spending on TV productions up 25% in year

RTE dramas like successful rural show Pure Mule boosted the spend on independent TV productions in Ireland by 25% in 2004, figures showed today.

A total of €53.7m was spent on the sector and this is projected to rise further during 2005, the Audiovisual Federation said.

The television series commissioned by RTE included Pure Mule, The Clinic, Love is the Drug, Celebrity You’re A Star and The Asylum.

Set in a rural town in the Midlands, Pure Mule won five Irish Film and Television Award gongs in November including Best TV Director.

Representative body for the independent production sector, the Audiovisual Federation also said in its annual review that expenditure on the animation sector rose by 84% from €8.2m in 2003 to €15.1m in 2004.

TG4’s Irish spend increased by 4% and its largest single commission was Ros na Run.

Overall expenditure in the independent production sector in Ireland was down from €151.4m in 2003 to €106.7m in 2004.

Feature film productions last year included The Honeymooners, the Neil Jordan-directed Breakfast on Pluto and Tara Road.

Mr Kevin Moriarty, managing director of Ardmore Studios, said international productions had continued to drop since 2003 due to a weak US dollar and increased competition from other countries.

He said Arts Minister John O’Donoghue is working to improve competitiveness and ensure the continued success of the film industry.

Audiovisual Federation director Tommy McCabe said: "While 2004 was a challenging year it did contribute a net gain to the Irish exchequer of €12.2m.

The increased Irish spend by the independent TV sector, notably by RTE, TG4 and the animation sector, compensated for the decline in feature film.

Mr McCabe said he believed that the new Sound and Vision Fund operated by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland will provide more opportunities for financing independent TV and feature film production.

He added: “Ongoing discussions are taking place with the Government in relation to improving Section 481 film incentive, which would significantly enhance the competitiveness of the Irish film sector if implemented.”

The Audiovisual Federation also called on the Government to provide an appropriate increase in TG4’s exchequer funding so that it has adequate, secure and ongoing resources to fulfil its remit.

The Audiovisual Federation report was drawn up by a steering committee comprising representatives from the Audiovisual Federation, the Irish Film Board, RTE, TG4, Screen Producers Ireland, the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, Ardmore Studios and the animation sector.

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