21 June 2016

BECTU is urging members to vote Remain in the EU referendum to protect the industry they work in.

The trade union for production, backstage, support, and technical workers  in the media and entertainment industries has voiced its concerns about the impact of a vote to leave the European Union on 23 June.

A report from BECTU, authored by BECTU's research officer Tony Lennon and published today, highlights the risks to members in  theatre, film production, events, and broadcasting, if the vote on Thursday goes against EU membership. The cultural industry in the EU is protected by law from trade rules that would otherwise outlaw support from individual state governments, and prevent cultural organisations subsidised by the state from competing with commercial operators.

Cultural diversity

Gerry Morrissey, BECTU's general secretary, said:

"One of the European Union's founding principles is that the cultural sector, in each member state, needs to be protected and nurtured. Our industry in Britain benefits enormously from the protection that the EU has written into laws about national culture,  and I believe our members would be seriously disadvantaged if Britain had to operate under the international trade rules that would come into force if the UK leaves the EU.

"I'm not sure," continued Morrissey, "how much support would be allowed under new trade agreements, with the EU and other countries, for the arts and entertainment sector, which currently has funding from central and local governments.

UK film

"I also wonder how much money will continue to flow into the British film industry from the United States. At the moment we are a very attactive destination because we have a large pool of world-class professionals working in the industry, and a generous tax break for producers. But US companies also come here because a UK base gives them access to the whole of Europe, which would be lost if we leave the EU. Who knows how many of them might switch to shooting in countries that are still in the EU if Britain votes for Brexit?"


BECTU also has concerns about the future of an EU rule which demands that all licenced TV channels in Europe should fill at least 50% of their schedules with locally-produced content. In the UK this rule limits the number of programmes on TV that come from other English-speaking nations, and boosts the local production sector. When this quota was introduced the UK government fought vigorously against it , and a Brexit vote would allow the rule to be abolished in the UK within two years.

"There may well be faults in the structure and democracy of the European Union", said Gerry Morrissey, "but we can continue to fix those if we remain a member. On balance, the interests of the cultural industries where BECTU members work are clearly in favour of staying in. Our Annual Conference in May voted to Remain, and that's how I'll be voting."

BECTU on Sound Cloud

Listen too to Tony Lennon's annual conference presentation on 14 May 2016 https://soundcloud.com/user-262360510/brexit-and-the-entertainment-industries

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