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HMRC internal manual

Television Production Company Manual

Overview and general definitions: meaning of ‘television production activities’, ‘production expenditure’ and ‘core expenditure’

S1216AF, S1216AG Corporation Tax Act 2009

Television production activities

For the purposes of the tax regime for Television Tax Relief (TTR), television production activities refers to the activities in respect of which production expenditure is incurred.

Production expenditure

Production expenditure is expenditure on the television production activities consisting of:

  • development,
  • pre-production,
  • principal photography, and
  • post-production.

These activities relate solely to the production of the animation and do not include expenditure on marketing, distribution or other non-production activities.

Core expenditure

TTR is only available on core expenditure.

Development activities are not core-expenditure. Core expenditure consists of:

  • pre-production,
  • principal photography, and
  • post-production.

Stages of animation production

The key distinction to be made between qualifying core-expenditure and all production expenditure is development.


Development is the stage of creation of a programme in which the project progresses from the initial concept to the point at which a decision can be taken whether or not it should proceed to production.

During development all the necessary elements are assembled to enable a producer or broadcaster to make a judgement on whether the programme is a viable commercial project.


Pre-production is the stage of production where activity begins to be directed at actually making the programme. This will include the following activities:

  • securing the necessary permissions for book rights, music and soundtrack
  • booking studio facilities
  • acquiring props
  • set construction
  • costume-making
  • rehearsals
  • engaging cast and crew

Principal photography

Principal photography for a programme is the stage at which filming occurs. This stage will often require that certain key elements from pre-production are complete. However, other stages of pre-production might continue.

This will usually be the most expensive stage of production.


Post-production is the stage where soundtracks are enhanced or added, visual effects added and the programme is edited for broadcast. The Television Production Company (TPC) will be required by its contract to deliver a specified list of items such as master versions in particular formats. These costs will also form part of production expenditure and core expenditure.

At the end of post-production, the programme is in a state where it can be broadcast.