The British film and television industriesdecline
1. The creative industries are playing a growing
part in the British economy. This report examines two of the most
important, film and televisionalthough some of our proposals
have implications for other industries like music and videogames.
Our aim is to see what practical help we can suggest to enable
these two industries to develop further and so benefit employment
and overseas earnings as well as adding to our national reputation
for excellent and innovative production.
2. The total workforce of the British film and
television industries is over 110,000.
It is a workforce which takes in actors, directors and producers,
reporters and cameramen, animators and make up artists, staff
in post-production studios and special effects, and the very many
men and women working behind the scenes ranging from electricians
and plasterers to sound technicians and researchers. In 2008,
British films accounted for around one third of the British cinema
box office and generated overseas earnings of over £1 billion.
In television, BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the corporation,
has sales of over £1 billion and few doubt that this figure
could be increased.
3. Both industries have won for themselves high
reputations. In the last twenty years there have been outstanding
British films like Slumdog Millionaire, Four Weddings
and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love and The English
Patient. British television has also produced a string of
award-winning programmes and programme formats, highly popular
both in the UK and abroad, such as Doctor Who, The
Office, Prime Suspect, Planet Earth, Morse, and State
of Play. While in the area of news, British television companies
have provided impartial and fair reporting which is respected
around the world.
4. Nevertheless both industries now face challenges
which have been increased by the global recession. Commercial
television supported by advertising has been particularly hit.
The problems of the economy have come on top of the structural
change caused by the growth of the internet and its success in
capturing an increasing share of advertising. One consequence
has been that the amount of money devoted to British originated
material has reduced and on present trends could reduce further.
5. For many years past, the particular challenge
in the film industry has been that the distribution and financing
of films has been dominated by the big American studios. The result
is that today there is fierce competition around the world to
persuade producers to make their films in a particular country.
Various financial incentives from tax relief to outright grants
are offered to win this inward investment. Producers have no option
but to take such incentives into account. If Britain wants to
maintain its position as a venue for international production
there is no alternative but to be competitive in what it can offer.
6. A further threat to both industries is audio
visual piracy. Films suffer from both illegal file sharing and
camcorder crime when new films are recorded at a cinema by camcorder
and then sold as DVDs. The result is that the value of the original
work is damaged and the incentive for those who would benefit
from subsequent cinema exhibition to invest in new films is reduced.
Subscription television faces a similar problem with the illegal
transmission of sport.
7. Even more fundamental is the issue of training.
Both film and television need skilled workforces. Skills are entirely
crucial. They are crucial in bringing overseas producers to Britain
to make their films. They are crucial for the making of high quality
programmes. Ominously the evidence is that in too many parts of
these industries quick economies are being made by cutting training
8. In spite of these problems we have no doubt
that both film and television are capable of achieving more. There
are, however, substantial issues to be decided by the policy makers.
This report is a contribution to that process.
9. The membership of the Committee is set out
in Appendix 1 and the Call for Evidence in Appendix 2. We received
56 written submissions and took oral evidence from 54 witnesses,
who are listed in Appendix 3. During the course of the inquiry,
we visited Berlin, to look at the ways in which the German authorities
support the German film industries. We also visited the film and
television studios at Pinewood and Leavesden. We should like to
express our thanks to all who have assisted us in our work.
10. Our Specialist Advisers for this inquiry
were Professor Steven Barnett, Professor of Communications
at the University of Westminster; and Dr Gerben Bakker, Departments
of Economic History and Accounting, London School of Economics
and Political Science. We have benefited greatly from their expertise.
1 The workforce of the film and video industry is over
30,000, and the workforce of the television industry is over 80,000
according to the ONS Annual Business Inquiry 2009. (SIC codes
59.11/3, 59.13/3, 60.2, 59.11/1, 59.12, 59.13/1, 59.14) Back