I note the Deputy's question, as submitted, was to make my views known on the recent sale of a studio to a large real estate corporation, particularly given that the State had only recently disposed of its share of the studios and that the studios have received large amounts of public funding over many years and my further views on whether it is time to take the studios into public ownership.
I understand that the sale of this studio is to the world leader in studio infrastructure and as such, this development will inject further essential investment into Ireland's network of studio infrastructure. It is a positive indication of the increasing sophistication of the development of the screen sector in recent years and a vote of confidence in the future of Ireland’s audiovisual industry. The inward investment will assist in establishing Ireland as a primary location for strategic investment in film and TV drama. I understand that the studio will shortly see an expansion of its studio and support spaces with an additional 21,000 sq. ft. of sound stages and 21,000 sq. ft. of support space added.
This sale was conducted between two private sector entities. The grounds for any investigation into the circumstances of the sale are not immediately apparent. In any case, queries about the conduct of the sale would be a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
The Government’s ambition as stated in the audiovisual action plan is to establish Ireland as a global hub for the production of film, TV drama and animation. Ireland competes internationally to attract inward productions that brings valuable investment to Ireland and this company with its global reach will assist the growth of our audiovisual industry. This development will underpin that ambition.
With the growth in streaming services, the demand for high-end TV series is almost limitless. The audiovisual industry is transforming at an exponential rate and I would not favour taking studio infrastructure into State ownership. The circumstances of the sale is a private matter for the studio’s commercial owners.
The studio is and was, before its sale, in full commercial ownership and the State has no stake in ownership. It did not receive public funding in the past decade. From an EU perspective, studios are subject to state-aid rules and any state intervention would require EU approval, which would not ordinarily be forthcoming.
The Government recognises the very significant success of our audiovisual industry in recent years. This success has been underpinned by the Government’s investment in Screen Ireland, the agency responsible for the development of the screen industry.
The studio provides world-class production facilities for both indigenous and incoming productions alike. This sale has the potential to bring new investment which will allow ongoing expansion and secure the future of this iconic studio.