The British Film and Television Industries - Communications Committee Contents





The British film and television industries

The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications is announcing today an inquiry into UK originated content in film and television.

The inquiry will focus on how the film and broadcasting industries are supporting the UK economy, including jobs, and promoting UK culture and talent and whether there is scope for them to make a greater contribution. It will examine trends in UK film production and the commissioning of UK content by broadcasters. It will assess how the current tax regime for films and, in the case of broadcasting, regulatory intervention by the Office of Communications (Ofcom), are supporting UK investment and jobs in these industries. The inquiry will also examine how related and growing parts of the creative industries sector, are contributing to the economy, and the benefits they offer to, and derive from, the film and television sectors.

In 2006, changes were made to the tax credit system for the British film industry. The new tax credit is available only for films which meet the qualifying conditions of "Britishness", which relate to the location of production and filming, the nationality of those involved and the cultural content of the film. The inquiry will examine the effectiveness of this regime and the appropriateness of the criteria used.

The inquiry will also consider the role of the Government's strategic agency for film, the UK Film Council. It will examine how the Film Council is meeting its objectives, particularly in the areas of direct financial support for production, export and distribution; encouraging investment in UK film and support for international co-production; and support for UK film culture.

The vast majority of UK originated content on UK television is produced or commissioned by the public service broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five). They are subject to requirements to broadcast minimum levels of original content. The inquiry will examine how well the regulatory framework is supporting UK originated content and whether the current arrangements are adequate for the digital age. It will also examine the implications for UK originated content of the current financial pressures on public service broadcasters, and the extent to which other broadcasters can be expected or encouraged to deliver original UK content.

The Committee would, in particular, welcome evidence on the following questions:

  •   1.  What do the UK film and television industries currently contribute to the UK economy and British culture? In what ways might this contribution be enhanced?
  •   2.  How do the current UK arrangements for distribution and exhibition of films affect the commercial success of the film industry? How might long run changes in international film production and distribution affect the UK film industry and its export potential over the next decade? To what extent is the raising of finance an inhibiting factor in UK film projects?
  •   3.  Have the 2006 changes to the tax credit system been of benefit to the UK film industry? Have they had a perceptible effect on UK film production? Are the qualifying conditions, including the "Britishness" test, for the tax credit appropriate? Are any types of film or types of commercial arrangement unreasonably excluded?
  •   4.  Is the UK Film Council meeting its objectives of giving support to production and export of British films? Could it do more to assist the UK film industry's contribution to the UK economy?
  •   5.  Is the current business infrastructure in the UK conducive to the acquisition of the managerial and technical skills required by the film and television industries? Is the business environment conducive to the emergence of entrepreneurial talent, which can take advantage of opportunities in the creative industries?
  •   6.  How successful has the regulatory system been in supporting UK content in television? Are there particular types of programming, such as drama, children's or factual programming, for which more support is needed? Could more be done through regulation or incentives, for example, to encourage non-public service broadcasters to commission original UK content? Might financial measures, such as industry levies, be feasible and effective?
  •   7.  How will the structural changes facing the UK television industry, and particularly the public service broadcasting component, affect UK originated television content? To what extent are these effects irreversible? To what extent are they being offset by changes elsewhere in the creative industries sector? What are the implications for television content creation of digital switchover and widespread broadband availability?


Submissions should be sent to:
Ralph Publicover
Select Committee on Communications
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW

Tel 020 7219 8662
Fax 020 7219 4931

and preferably also as an email attachment to:

The deadline for submitting written evidence was 23 March 2009. This has now been extended to 30 April 2009.

Please ensure that you include relevant contact details. Evidence should be attributed and dated, with a note of your name and position, and should state whether it is submitted on an individual or corporate basis.

Short submissions of 6 pages or fewer are preferred; longer submissions should include a summary. Evidence sent as hard copy should be clearly printed or typed on single sides of A4 paper, unstapled. Paragraphs should be numbered. If drawings or charts are included, we ask that these are black-and-white and of camera-ready quality.

Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed or circulated by the Committee. You may publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you should indicate that it was prepared for the Committee. The Committee may invite some of those who submit written evidence to give oral evidence, usually in public at Westminster. Transcripts will be published.

You can follow the inquiry via the Committee web pages, accessed from

This is a public call for evidence. Please bring it to the attention of other groups and individuals who may not have received a copy direct.

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