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South Africa Revises Film And TV Production Incentives

by Robert Lee, Tax-News.com, London

08 April 2008


South African Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa has officially launched a revised film and television production incentive regime.

The revised film production incentives were launched by the minister on March 31st, and it aims to increase local content generation and improve location competitiveness for foreign film productions in South Africa.

The new package comprises the Location Film and Television Production Scheme, and the South African Film and Television Production and Co-Production Scheme. The incentives are intended to increase local content generation and improve location competitiveness for filming in South Africa.

The Location Film and Television Production scheme will replace the Large Budget Film and Television Production Rebate, which the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) implemented in 2004. This component is only available to foreign-owned productions with Qualifying South African Production Expenditure (QSAPE) of R12mn (USD1.5mn) and above.

It provides a rebate of 15% of the QSAPE to qualifying productions in the following formats: feature films, telemovies, television drama series, documentaries, animation and short form animations. Its aim is to attract large-budget overseas film and television productions to South Africa.

The South African Film and Television Production Incentive is being introduced in order to provide more financial support for locally-owned productions and co-productions. This component is available to both South African productions and official treaty co-productions with a total production budget of R2.5mn and above.

It provides a rebate of 35% for the first R6 million, and 25% for the remainder of the qualifying production expenditure. The following formats are eligible: feature films, telemovies, television drama series, documentaries, animation and short form animations.

The value of the rebate for any qualifying production is capped at a maximum of R10mn.

Effectively, the following key changes are being introduced:

  • The reduction of the threshold from R25mn QSAPE for foreign-owned productions to R12mn;
  • A differential requirement that local-owned productions and co-productions must have at least R2.5mn of total production budget;
  • An increase of the rebate from 25% up to 35% for local productions in order to ensure higher financial support for local productions;
  • The reduction of the threshold will make the bundling of productions unnecessary for producers;
  • The provisions of the incentive will encourage production companies to advance industry transformation through adherence to the requirements of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment.

All productions approved under the Large Budget Film and Television Production Rebate would still be treated under the rules of that scheme, and would not be able to convert to the new incentive, according to the government.

In addition to the financial support provided through the new rebate incentives, a number of other measures are being implemented as part of the broader sector development strategy.

These include capacity development for emerging production companies, the development of writers and editors through the enterprise development programme, and the establishment of five pilot programmes in different locations to address distribution infrastructure, local content and audience expansion.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining tax-sheltering arrangements for investors, including Venture Capital, Forest Finance, Film Finance, is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report5.asp

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