Many UK TV productions have been delayed, and some productions have been cancelled because of the COVID pandemic. This has had a substantial effect on many production companies; a Pact survey of members earlier in the year found that producers have lost more than £250m in revenue due to delays and cancellations. The UK broadcasters have also been impacted financially by the COVID pandemic, with many broadcasters reducing their programme budgets to offset the decline in the advertising market. While this will effect producers across the UK, producers based in the nations and regions tend to rely more heavily on the UK broadcasters for commissions; approximately 40% of first-run UK originations on the five main Public Service Broadcaster (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5) channels are made outside of London.
Pact are pleased that the Government are committed to levelling up the regions; around one third of our membership is based in the nations and regions. Last year, we launched a range of services specifically designed for our members in the nations and regions to help grow their businesses. We also opened an office in Leeds and hired specific staff to help our members in the regions take advantage of the opportunities on offer and win more commissions. Often local and regional structures, such as LEPs, do not understand the needs of creative and IP driven businesses. These bodies should work with trade associations, such as Pact, to understand how to deliver local growth and help businesses scale up. With additional support from local bodies and Government, there is no reason why the regional TV and film production sector cannot continue to grow post pandemic.
Local and Regional Structures
1.1 The UK TV and Film production has often been better equipped to address issues, rather than the Government itself especially at local and regional levels. Often LEPs and other public bodies do not understand the needs of creative, IP driven businesses and have often prioritised support for sectors that are already prominent in that region, such as manufacturing. While many of the courses and support LEPs have on offer may help some businesses, these are often very similar to the services that trade associations already have on offer. These services are best delivered by trade associations themselves who have the knowledge and expertise to specifically help creative businesses.
1.2 Last year, Pact launched a range of services targeted to our members based in the nations and regions, including the new Business Accelerator and Production Accelerator. The Business Accelerator focuses on what production companies need to know to run and manage their business. The Production Accelerator helps companies who are looking to improve their creative offer and manage and exploit their IP as effectively as possible. Many LEPs run similar business development and skills courses. Rather than duplicating schemes that trade associations have on offer, local Government should work with industry to see where there are gaps, or pay for local businesses to have access to the schemes and opportunities Pact and other trade associations have on offer.
1.3 There are already several established production hubs across the UK in cities such as Bristol and Manchester. Local councils and LEPs in these areas usually have schemes on offer to help creative businesses, because the creative industries already have an established presence in the area. Local councils and LEPs in these areas should reach out to other bodies in the surrounding areas to ensure there is a joined up approach to helping creative businesses across the region.
2.1 Once the transition period comes to an end in December 2020, the UK will cease to be part of the Creative Europe programme and will not be seeking to participate in the next programme post-Brexit. It is vital that the Government sets out how they plan to replace the funds lost from the Creative Europe programme. The UK film and TV production sector is in a strong position globally, however the Government needs to ensure that they do not suffer economically and any lost funds are replaced. The proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund could be one means of replacing the funds lost from the Creative Europe programme.
2.2 The Creative Europe programme also offers development of single projects and slate funding. Slate development funding is vital for developing a project to a high standard ready for commission. The UK commissioning market is incredibly competitive due to the limited number of commissioning slots available, this means that production companies spend a lot of time and money developing ideas to a the highest standard possible. We had pitched a TV slate development fund to the Leeds LEP which would support local production companies in the area develop projects that have had interest from broadcasters. Producers operate on small margins and the little reserves they do have are often invested into developing ideas. The creation of regional a slate development fund would help ease the financial pressure on producers, which is particularly important given the impact of the COVID pandemic on production companies finances.
 Analysis for Pact by Oliver & Ohlbaum, published in ‘A New Age for UK TV content and a New Role for the BBC’, August 2014
 Pact Census Independent Production Sector Financial Census and Survey 2019, by Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates Limited