U.K. Film & TV Sector Could Lose £36 Billion Due to COVID-19


In 2020, the film, TV, video, radio and photography industry in the U.K. is forecast to lose £36 billion ($45 billion) in turnover compared to 2019, a 57 percent decline, according to a new report from Oxford Economics.

The newly commissioned research from Oxford Economics for the Creative Industries Federation reveals that the U.K.’s creative industries are “on the brink of devastation.”

The country’s creative sector was previously growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, employing over 2 million people and contributing £111.7 billion ($140 billion) to the economy—more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined. The Projected Economic Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Creative Industries report cites a combined £74 billion ($92.6 billion) turnover loss over the course of 2020 for the U.K.’s creative industries compared to 2019, a 30 percent drop.

The report projects that 119,000 permanent creative workers will be made redundant by the end of the year. The impact on employment is set to be felt twice as hard by creative freelancers, with 287,000 freelance roles expected to be terminated by the end of 2020.

The post-production industry could lose £827 million ($1.03 billion) in turnover compared to 2019. Animation, while included within the post-production definition, has had much more positive outcomes so far through a smoother transition to home-working. However, in the longer-term, the sector may experience difficulties with reduced commissions, both in the U.K. and globally. The industry has also experienced some costs and delays with the transition to home-working.

The BFI had reported last month that 65 percent of film and high-end TV production had to be put on hold during the shutdown, though film and TV production is now restarting following the introduction of extensive social distancing guidance.

Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “With the economic impact of COVID-19 hitting hard, the role of our creative industries has never been more critical. As well as being a huge driver of economic growth in every part of the U.K., our creative and cultural sectors bring communities together, they employ millions and are at the heart of our soft power.  These are the industries of the future: highly innovative, resistant to automation and integral to both our cultural identity and the nation’s mental health. We’re about to need them more than ever.

“Our creative industries have been one of the U.K.’s biggest success stories but what today’s report makes clear is that, without additional government support, we are heading for a cultural catastrophe. If nothing is done, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country.

“We urgently need a Cultural Renewal Fund for those in the creative sector who will be hit hardest, including those industries who will be latest to return to work, those businesses unable to operate fully whilst maintaining social distancing and those creative professionals who continue to fall through the gaps of government support measures. We must also avoid a cliff-edge on vital measures such as the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme, which have been a financial lifeline for many parts of the creative industries and cannot be cut off overnight.

“It is time to both imagine and engineer our future. We will need our creative industries to do that. They are too important to ignore.”