Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence - Sixth Report


Memorandum submitted by the London International Development Corporation Ltd


  1.  In 1993, London International Development Corporation Ltd ("LIDC") was established by British television executives with the aim of using their expertise to develop media-related projects in the emerging markets of Eastern Europe and the former USSR. Areas of activity include film (co-productions, development of film studio facilities and refurbishment of cinemas) television (programme and sponsorship sales, facilities, technical support, and setting up new terrestrial channels) and the Internet (outsourcing of programming from the UK).

  2.  Two of the founder members of the management team; Patrick Newman and Galina Slepneva previously worked at Yorkshire Television in the early 1990s on a number of Russia-related television projects which had received Know How Fund support in the form of a pre-investment feasibility study. This early HMG assistance is still paying dividends as LIDC is currently using some of the Know How Fund expertise it acquired to assist the company in planning its foreign direct investments in Uzbek television.

  3.  During the 1990s LIDC gained practical experience of distribution across the former USSR in particular the company developed cost effective methods of linking media and distribution. Projects included introducing brands of British food and drink products across the region. This activity received support from the then Minister of Agriculture, The Right Hon Mr Douglas Hogg.

  4.  LIDC exhibited at a number of trade fairs in Russia in 1995-96. This was made posible by Department of Trade and Industry financial support firstly for the East European Trade Council which organised the British pavilion at the "Future of Russia" exhibition at Nizhny Novgorod, and secondly for Food from Britain which organised the British stands at "World Food Fair" in Moscow 1995.

  5.  The company is committed to the sharing of information and experience; LIDC Director Galina Slepneva has been a guest speaker at a number of conferences to talk about Russian customs issues. She has written numerous articles for The European newspaper and trade press. Recognition of her contribution was noted by Mr Dan Brennan, Editor of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce Bulletin and Russian Customs News: "Galina Slepneva Director of London International Development Corp's contribution to these two publications and by extension to British companies doing business in Russia is an extremely valuable one—these reflect regular feedback which I receive from readers of both publications."


  6.  In spring 1997 the company reached agreement with the Central Asia and Transcaucasia Desk of the Department of Trade and Industry to participate in the Festival of Britain in Uzbekistan. The DTI decided to promote British trade in Uzbekistan by using a "cultural element" as part of the Festival. As part of this approach of linking commercial and cultural elements, the DTI paid some of LIDC's costs of taking a traditional puppet play to Uzbekistan. This imaginative and cost effective idea received a positive media response both in the UK (a front page article which appeared in The Sunday Telegraph Business News in August 1997) and in the Uzbek media.

  7.  LIDC not only exhibited at the Festival of Britain stand in Tashkent but took the puppet show to Nukus in Karakalpakia as well as to a number of special schools and orphanages and the State Puppet Theatre in Tashkent. There was a very positive response in Uzbekistan from local people and the Mayor of Nukus. More than 3,000 children saw the show and the success was in part because the shows were given in the local language. The Uzbek Ambassador in London, His Excellency Fatihr Teshabaev organised the translation of the show prior to the Festival.

  8.  The Uzbek Minister of Culture, Mr Djuraev who opened the Festival of Britain on behalf of the Uzbek government, visited the LIDC stand and formally invited the company to meet him. Through this initial contact which has been sustained since 1997, LIDC is now undertaking the first British foreign direct investment in the field of media and culture in Uzbekistan.


  9.  LIDC is currently organising the broadcast of a weekly movie on Uzbek television (this includes translation and dubbing of 52 feature films). It acts as the distributor of The Economist newspaper and the agent for BBC World in Uzbekistan for hotel distribution.

  10.   Film. Through a local company, LIDC is in the process of making an investment in the state film studio. The studio which was established in the 1930s has a library of more than 300 films, a staff or more than 450, two stages (1,200m2 and 800m2), a dubbing theatre, construction and wardrobe workshops. The studio still receives an annual government grant. LIDC is marketing the studio to a number of British film companies interested in shooting in Uzbekistan. Projects under development include a Channel 4 drama, and a feature film of Christopher Marlowe's "Tamburlaine" to be directed by Terry Hands, starring Anthony Sher. This collaboration will benefit both British and Uzbek employment in the film industry.

  11.  Television. In collaboration with the studio LIDC is planning to apply with local partners for a licence for terrestrial broadcast in Uzbekistan, and is currently in negotiations with BBC Worldwide to provide news packages by satellite feed for the new station.


  12.  The Company's activities in Uzbekistan would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and professionalism of the DTI's team on the Central Asia and Transcaucasia Desk. In particular the Deputy Director, Mr John Slate, his colleagues Mr Mike Essex and export promoter Mr Martin Banfield gave the company invaluable assistance.

  13.  Although the FCO's role has not until now been of great significance in the company's activities in Central Asia, LIDC would welcome the opportunity of building a closer relationship with the British Embassy in Tashkent.


  14.  Establishing a British Embassy Tashkent website with links to trade and cultural sites of related interest to Web visitors. (It is worth noting that the Embassy in Baku does have a site, which plays "God Save the Queen" as you enter the Home Page!)

  15.  Increasing the provision for language training for students and business people—British long-term commercial interests would be served by increasing the number of British students and business people with a working knowledge of Central Asian languages. This can be achieved in a cost-effective manner using distance learning over the Internet for employees of companies interested in the region.

March 1999

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