Public financing for film and television content – The state of soft money in Europe

Public Financing is of prime importance for the film industry in Europe. It represents a key intersection point between public policy and market dynamics.

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Pages : 108
Place : Strasbourg
Authors : Julio Talavera
Date of publication : July 2016
Editor : European Audiovisual Observatory

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The European Audiovisual Observatory has been tracking the volume and structure of public financing of films, TV programmes and other audiovisual content for almost 20 years and has just published its latest report on the subject. “Public financing for film and television content – The state of soft money in Europe” covers:

  • 35 European Countries
  • direct public funding through the film funds
  • fiscal incentives
  • mandatory obligations for broadcasters
  • guarantee facilities

The report covers the years 2010 – 2014 and has four main sections.

The first and main section is dedicated to the analysis of the 250 funds in operation. The basic indicators tracked by the report are

  • number of funds and their evolution;
  • income by type and source (government budgets – levies – taxes – lottery, etc.);
  • spend by type of activity (development, film production, TV production, distribution, promotion, etc.).

The indicators of this first section are broken down by geographical level (national/federal, regional/local and supranational) as well as by country.

The second section establishes a typology for fiscal incentive schemes and gives a detailed list of existing mechanisms in Europe. It further looks at the impact and benefits of these schemes (see also a previous Observatory report on the subject of fiscal incentives).

The third section covers all mandatory obligations for public and private broadcasting companies to invest into the production of audiovisual works (see also a previous Observatory report focusing on the legal aspects of broadcasters’ investment obligations).

The fourth section focuses on a relatively new instrument, guarantee facilities. The report describes the European Commission’s guarantee facility to be launched by the end of 2016 by the European Investment bank.

The geographical scope includes all 28 EU members -except Malta- plus Albania*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, ex-Yugosloav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Russia*, Switzerland and Turkey (* only in the funding body population).

See sample pages and list of tables/graphs at the bottom.

Content list

Executive summary



1. Towards a methodology to measure public funding

1.1. Indicators and geographical levels

What makes a fund a fund?

How to count a fund?


Why do they call it spend when they mean commitment?

Spending categories

Avoiding double counting

How to calculate estimates

1.2. Scope and coverage rates

2. Funding body population

Geographical distribution

Evolution of the funding body population

National and sub-national funds by country

3. Public funds’ income

Total income by country

3.1  Distribution by geographical level

3.2  Incoming sources at national and sub-national level

National/federal vs. sub-national funds

Breakdown of sources

Taxes and levies

Contribution by the national/federal government

Contribution by the regional and local governments

Self-generated income, repayments and copyright

3.3 Supranational funds

Supranational schemes

4. Spend of public funds

Distribution by geographical level

Distribution by type of activity

4.1 Expenditure at national and sub-national level

Overall spend by country

National vs sub-national

Evolution of spend by activity

Theatrical production

Other activities

4.2 Expenditure at supranational level


1. Types and operation modes of fiscal incentives

1.1 Types of fiscal incentives

Tax shelters


Tax credits

Preference for rebate-style structures among new incentives

1.2       How do fiscal incentives operate?

Legal basis & administration

Varying certification requirements

Spending caps

2. Fiscal incentive schemes in Europe by country

2.1. Impacts on the film sector

Impacts on production levels

Impacts on production flows

Impacts on employment

Impact on direct funding

Other impacts on local film sector

Fiscal impact

2.2. Countries offering tax shelters

2.3. Countries offering rebates

2.4. Countries offering tax credits




1. Indirect support schemes: funding of film funds by broadcasters

2. Direct support schemes: broadcasters investments in production

2.1.      Framework agreements regulating the direct investments of broadcasters

2.2.      Mandatory obligations by law

            Mandatory obligations for providers of on-demand services


What is a guarantee on a bank loan?

1. Creative Europe Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility


How does CCS Guarantee Facility work?

CCS Loan Guarantee Facility

Capacity Building


Annex: List of funding bodies in Europe



Online Services

IRIS e-Newsletter

Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory

> Database IRIS Merlin 

Database on legal information relevant to the audiovisual sector in Europe

> AVMSDatabase

Database on the transposition of the AVMS Directive into national legislation

Database LUMIERE

Database on admissions to films released in Europe

> Database MAVISE

Database on TV and on-demand audiovisual services and companies in Europe