The UK government has published the awaited eligibility criteria and guidelines for its £500M ($646M) film and TV production restart program.

The scheme is aimed at helping UK productions that have been suspended and are not able to secure insurance going forward, or are yet to start because of no existing insurance, get back underway before the end of the year.

Following industry lobbying, the government committed to an emergency COVID insurance fund back in July. It will be available to compensate productions after they have restarted, and only where costs are then incurred due to delays or abandonment as a result of coronavirus.

Among productions that won’t be eligible are news and current affairs, live events broadcasts such as sports or theater or musical screenings, and productions in front of a paying live audience.

The program has been set up as a temporary measure, supporting productions which begin filming before the end of 2020 and for coronavirus-related losses through to the end of June 2021. However, we’ve heard rumors that there could be moves to lobby for an extension to the scheme’s parameters beyond December 31, 2020.

UK producers body Pact welcomed the publication of the details. Pact CEO John McVay said: “The majority of the film and TV sector has been unable to return to production due to a lack of Covid insurance cover, so clarity on the Government scheme means that the sector should now be able to get back to what we love most – making TV programmes and films enjoyed by UK audiences and many more millions around the globe”.

Sara Geater, Chair of Pact and All3Media Chief Operating Officer, added: “We welcome the Government’s support for our industry which will see a return to work for thousands of people and provide the UK TV and film industry with the opportunity and confidence to put production plans into practice to build on the huge global success we achieved in 2019.”