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Isle of Man backs new TV venture

The Isle of Man (IoM) is solidly backing a new media initiative to welcome broadcast channels to the low tax island. Satellite operator SES is to start building the first of four giant nine-metre teleport dishes to support the scheme.

The IoM’s Department of Economic Development special advisor for media, Stuart Semark, talking exclusively to The IBC Daily, said the scheme has in place £25 million of media funding to assist broadcasters with equipment such as cameras, edit suites and transmission facilities.

Pinewood Pictures is managing the fund, and Semark says that other enterprise and development cash is available, including local private equity funding.

The IoM has already become something of a hub for international e-gaming, casino and online lottery activity. Semark stressed that the island is naturally conservative, and its gaming licences are strictly enforced. “We operate an extra-safe infrastructure, with full back-up and redundancy. The new SES teleport will add to that.

“It is about job creation, of course, and our university is already developing suitable courses for support staff. We have an extremely attractive taxation structure here – both corporate and individual – which is already proving to be interesting to all manner of projects.

The past few years have seen more than 100 feature film and TV dramas co-produced or co-financed on the island.

We already have talented production people here, and we want to appeal to new channels, including niche specialty channels to come to the island,” added Semark.

Dr Richard Arning, who heads up SES’s Satellite Leasing base on the island, said the satellite operator was looking for considerable expansion on the IoM.

“Our vision for channels and new capacity from the island is much greater than a single-dish initiative. We want to build a new ecosystem for the island, that’s appealing to existing international broadcasters and we very much want to incubate new channels.”

Dr Arning said that with SES committed to launching four new satellites over the next year or so it was important that the operator had ground-based expansion possibilities to hand.