Video Games in the 2013 Cinema Communication Negotiations: A Political Economic Perspective
Dublin City University
(at time of presentation)
Maria O'Brien is in the second year of a phd in DCU, funded by the National Development Plan. Her research focuses on tax incentives for film and video games in Ireland. Maria is a former solicitor and tax consultant. She holds an MA in Screen Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a M Litt in Film Studies from TCD.
Should video games enjoy cultural tax breaks? Are they different to films and other audiovisual works? The European Commission believes they are and applies different competition law rules to the different sectors.
The 2013 Cinema Communication sets out the application of European Union state aid rules to film and other audiovisual works and is a significant revision of the first Cinema Communication from 2001. State aid includes the favourable terms offered by a Member State of the European Union to indigenous industries. Usually, such aids are regarded as distorting competition between Member States and are prohibited. The Cinema Communication sets out conditions under which such aids to the audiovisual sector are approved. For example, Ireland’s film tax expenditure, Section 481, is approved under the Cinema Communication as it is a cultural aid.
This paper looks at the consultation process behind the revisions to the Cinema Communication leading to the 2013 Cinema Communication. In particular, I focus on the processes behind the decision to exclude video games from the remit of the Cinema Communication. This exclusion means that video games do not enjoy the favourable terms offered by the Irish Government to other audiovisual industries.
I approach this analysis from a political economic perspective with a particular focus on the role of both the state and industry groups in influencing public policy. The attempt to find a balance between the parallel aims of economics and culture is of particular interest. I use the work of Vincent Mosco to analyse the policies from three entry points, namely commodification, spatialization and structuration. This gives me a lens with which to analyse the policy developments which directly influence cultural production in Ireland. Mosco defines political economy of communications as referring to the ‘social relations and particularly the power relations that constitute the production, distribution and consumption of communication resources in society’ (Mosco, 1996, p25). My analysis of this policy development interrogates the nature of the power relations that shape audiovisual policy in Ireland.