Ministry wants to use EU coronavirus funds to help TV and video game industries

Photo illustrative: Tomasz Mikolajczyk/Pixabay, CC0

In response to changing trends, the Ministry of Culture has announced plans to establish a new fund for the support of television and videogame production, Czech Television reported on Sunday. If the subsidy programme is approved by the government, it would bring CZK 750 million of funding for original television shows and videogames.

Already before the onset of the coronavirus, high-quality television films and series were becoming an increasingly competitive segment with movies intended for the big screen. At the same time the worldwide videogame industry has already tripled its income when compared to the box office industry in past years.

Photo: Pierre Meignan,  Radio Prague International

The Czech Ministry of Culture is planning to respond to these trends by creating a special audio-visual fund that would be focused on supporting television and videogame productions. The fund would operate with a CZK 750 million budget, a significant portion of the CZK 3 billion that the ministry is hoping to receive via the EU coronavirus recovery fund.

Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told Czech Television that he sees this as a logical investment.

“It should be in the interest of the state to create a strong segment of the Czech economy in this area. In some neighbouring countries it already is the second or third most significant part of the economy.”

Setting up a fund focused on both television and gaming could have its benefits too. The director of the State Cinematography Fund, Helena Bezděk Fraňková, told Czech Television that the ministry has already identified relevant connections between the animation and gaming sectors.
Pavel Barák from the Czech Game Developers Association agrees.

Pavel Barák,  photo: Czech Television

“The games industry has a wide variety of positions and it is connected not just to animation, but also the movie industry. As videogames become more advanced they require components such as acting, camerawork and scriptwriting.”

He also says this is the first time that the state is actively talking to the Czech games industry, whose revenues reached nearly CZK 5 billion last year compared to the film and television industry’s CZK 1 billion.

“We are approaching it with moderate excitement, but right now it's only in the planning stage, so really right at the start.”

Illustrative photo: ICRC / YouTube

The government is expected to decide on whether to go ahead with the proposal at the turn of February to March next year. However, some economists have criticised the ministry for allocating too few financial resources into innovative projects, Czech Television reports.

For a long time now, the Czech Game Developers Association has been calling for state help particularly in the area of supporting relevant education that would generate much needed graduates for the gaming sector. An active role of the state in attracting foreign investment is also seen as important, says Mr. Barák.