Memorandum submitted by Chrysalis Television
Dear Lord Puttnam
Please forgive the direct approach but I gather
time is not on our side.
In recent months we have become increasingly
concerned about the role of the independent in the wake of the
Broadcast Bill. We have discussed its ramifications informally
with the ITC and would like to put our views to you.
We have certain reservations as to PACT's ability
to best present our case at Government level. This concern may
well be shared by many of my colleagues in the leading independent
It is my intention to assemble a small alliance
of leading Indie MDs to put forward our views on how best to promote
a healthy future for British broadcasting and independent production
both creatively and economically.
Our position is simple. We largely support the
Bill and its efforts to create a more competitive, creative, innovative
and diverse broadcasting landscape. We feel the independent production
sector has had and will have a very important part to play in
the success of British broadcasting and production.
Small is often beautiful where creative businesses
are concerned and the independent production sector has already
shown a flair for innovation, quality, identifying and nurturing
talent from which the British viewer and broadcaster and overseas
buyer benefit. One possible effect of the Bill is that the broadcasters
will become more homogeneous and less flexible not least as some
become part of global organisations.
The independent production sector provides a
seed of response, a more direct and intimate connection with its
market place and frankly a formidable creative and technical skillset
both to complement and balance some of the likely effects of some
of its proposed changes.
But the independent sector is under pressure
and is likely to come under more of it under the Bill. It would
be supported and bolstered very simply if the true intention and
underlying philosophy of the independent quota was enforced by
the Bill. We feel the independent quota is currently open to abuse
and is effectively un-policeable. Because the 25 per cent quota
is reconciled by hours, it is being used by many broadcasters
for down time, hours of volume sport and seldom in peak. We do
not think this is in the best interest of British television,
the viewer and certainly not the independent industry.
The quota should surely be determined by reference
to the programme to each applicable broadcaster's programme budgetin
that way its value would be properly spread across genre and schedule.
We would hope that the Government would wish
to safeguard the independent sector which has such a key role
in creating and maintaining the sort of creative television production
environment for Britain that will enable British Television best
to prosper after enactment of the Bill.