Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT)

  I am writing to ask if PACT can give oral evidence to the Select Committee inquiry on the proposed Communications Bill. PACT did not have the opportunity to give evidence at the previous inquiry on the White Paper. We believe the Committee would benefit from hearing about how the content production sector can be assisted.

  PACT represents the interests of independent producers for television, feature film, animation and the new media. The independent sector has been an enormous creative success and provides some of the UK's best programmes, as illustrated by the disproportionate number of programme awards they receive (61 per cent of this year's BAFTAs). It also contributes towards price and creative competition in content production, which helps promote both efficiency and quality.

  There has been much debate about digital television and broadband services, but little attention has been paid to how we can create and sustain a thriving sector that can provide compelling content for these services. PACT would want to give evidence on how the Government could assist the UK content production sector to thrive and become more competitive. We believe such assistance is necessary if the Government is to achieve the ambition set out in the White Paper, to "make the UK home to the most competitive and dynamic media and communications market in the world".

  Many of our members have used their skills in creating appealing narratives and production management to diversify into new media production. PACT is currently responsible for the chairmanship the DTI sponsored Digital Content Forum (DCF). If called to give evidence we would include the DCF Chairman in our team, so that the Committee could hear more about how PACT is working with the DCF to develop its activities.

  Next year the independent sector will have been in existence for 20 years. Despite its creative success the sector remains unattractive to investors. Most independents are small under-capitalised businesses that face difficulties in supporting research and development for new programme ideas. This makes it difficult for them to compete effectively in the market. We would like to tell the Select Committee why this is the case, and what the Government could do to encourage the content production sector. We would also like the Committee to hear about the many difficulties that independent producers have encountered in the last few years with the BBC.

  We shall, of course, submit written evidence and if called to give oral evidence, we would make our written submission well ahead of the 11 January deadline.

28 November 2001

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