News Reel & Blog

Is the UK's TV production industry too London-centric?

Written by Daniel Kirby on 11th September 2017

tv production

A recent survey of TV producers by Pact, the trade association representing TV and film companies, has found that a mere 32% of last year's entire UK production budget was spent outside London, prompting questions on what can and should be done to ensure other areas of the country are represented.

One suggestion was proposed by the Conservative party in their manifesto for the last election, in which they pledged that they would relocate Channel 4 outside the capital, with Birmingham thought to be the preferred location.

However John McVay, the chief executive of Pact, has suggested that instead of relocating, the broadcaster should instead spend more outside the capital, with the same requirements as those placed on the BBC, to spread their spending more broadly across the UK.

Pact also recently revealed just how significant international streaming services have been for bolstering UK production revenues, as despite a decline in revenues from domestic production, international commissioning sales grew significantly last year, with Netflix being identified as a major contributor after ordering major UK dramas such as 'The Crown'.

SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon are undoubtedly a major contributor to the UK film and TV production business, and given that this looks likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future, the UK would surely be wise to capitalise on its broad heritage in order to ensure a diverse slate of programming for viewers on these platforms.

Regional TV shows and films have seen success abroad both recently and historically, with films including Trainspotting (and its sequel) and shows such as Peaky Blinders demonstrating that the presence of a regional accent will not deter international viewers. In fact, UK productions which take place outside of the capital would likely represent a refreshing alternative for many viewers.

A spokesperson at Channel 4 responded to McVay's argument to impose stricter requirements on the broadcaster by explaining that Channel 4 have a strong track record of investing in nations and regions productions, far exceeding Ofcom requirements, and announcing their plans to increase their regional contributions even further.

Clearly these changes can't be made overnight, but most in the industry would welcome a greater share of production activities across the country, and we hope Pact's work will help spur the government and the industry itself into doing more to recognise the value of spreading the country's production activities more widely.