Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Key talks up sweeteners for TV

PM says attracting overseas shows to film in NZ the next step in boosting the creative industry post-Hobbit.

John Key shared a beer yesterday at Hobbiton's Green Dragon Pub in Matamata with actors (from right) William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Graham McTavish and James Nisbet. Photo / Christine Cornege
John Key shared a beer yesterday at Hobbiton's Green Dragon Pub in Matamata with actors (from right) William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Graham McTavish and James Nisbet. Photo / Christine Cornege

The Government wants to offer better incentives to get more foreign TV shows filmed in New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key, in Matamata yesterday for the opening of the Green Dragon Pub at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, said attracting television series was the next step to aiding the creative industry after movie work such as Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit.

"Blockbuster movies are very, very large ... but they have big peaks and troughs and during the troughs that's really difficult for people working in that field, so we can fill those gaps with television," Mr Key said.

Under Mr Key's lead the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Film Commission and the Inland Revenue Department are jointly reviewing the incentives offered to overseas producers to film TV series in New Zealand.

Under the existing rules at least $15 million must be spent in New Zealand before a TV series is eligible for the Government's 15 per cent contribution.

But Mr Key said the minimum was "too high" and New Zealand was losing out to other markets including Australia, Canada and Britain.

"I don't think we want to have a race to the biggest incentive if you like, but in terms of television the minimum is too high if we want to get pilot television series made.

"We will need to get some advice on the financial implications of that."

Graeme Mason, chief executive of the Film Commission, which distributes the grants, said television series were disadvantaged under the current system because they normally wouldn't spend $15 million on making one pilot or a series.

"The Hobbit coming in here, when it filmed, it gave benefit to the local area. That's a benefit which is going to continue with this tourist attraction [the Hobbiton tour]. But the idea would be if you had a great TV series, British or American TV show that could do the same things - drive work, income for the local community ... That's an economic grant. The Government is not just giving away taxpayers' money."

Mr Mason expected the review to be completed within the next few months. He suggested a way to attract pilots which didn't qualify under the current incentive conditions was to offer a tax break provided it was filmed here when it was committed to a series. American show Spartacus was one example of a TV series produced in New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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