U.K. Toon Biz Fizzling

Wallace and Gromit may end up eating government cheese if things don’t turn around for the British animation industry. According to Daily Variety, a government investment fund of approximately $90 million is needed over the next eight years to help boost U.K. production as foreign-made animated properties edge locally produced fare out of TV timeslots.

Though such British-made series as Bob the Builder and Noddy have become huge hits around the globe, statistics show that only about 50 hours of new and re-commissioned animation are produced in the U.K. each year, compared with 270 hours in France, 120 in Spain and 75 in Germany. Other studies show that U.K. toons accounted for only 20% of network airtime devoted to animation.

In addition to foreign competition, British animation producers are struggling to keep shows going with the low licensing fees they get from broadcasters. New shows have a hard time getting off the ground without government subsidies and tax breaks that producers in other parts of the world enjoy.