Taxation: separate trade - television productions
The film tax regime is targeted at ‘film production companies’ (FPCs) (FPC10110) that are engaged in making ‘films’ (FPC10100). A company making programmes for television may well be an FPC and be making films for the purposes of the regime.
Television programs are often commissioned by broadcast companies who agree to buy exclusive time-limited transmission rights within their territory. Following the Communications Act 2003, a UK production company retains the overarching rights to a programme commissioned by a UK broadcaster and can exploit the programme outside the boundaries of, or after the expiry of, the exclusivity agreement.
Programmes may be commissioned and made individually or in blocks. Generally, television production companies will contract for, and maintain, detailed management accounts for the series that will be treated, for the purposes of the tax rules, as a single film because the series will be contracted for delivery as a self-contained work (FPC20130).
Long-running series will normally still be contracted for in discrete blocks for good commercial reasons and the normal rules will apply to treat each block as a separate film.