I’ll be posting more on this in the coming weeks, but there are some very big concerns circulating even in Conservative circles about the potential damage that the UK could sustain due to changes in the film and TV industry. There is plenty of evidence of the UK’s ability to project soft power – to influence the world positively in our own interests, and to be an attractive destination for global talent – is based on the positive worldwide influence of British drama. It’s not just about how Gogglebox helps us have a national conversation of our own…
There is definitely room for a similar campaign to the one an Australian alliance has done to re-build their own industry – Make It Australian.
There are a number of factors in play here, and they may even form a perfect storm…
- The possible privatisation of Channel Four, weakening, or even depriving the UK of an important incubator
- The gradual weakening of the BBC as a valuable incubator
- The decline in deficit-financed production at the expense of content that is wholly commissioned, owned and distributed by companies like Netflix – thereby depriving the UK of valuable IP (a bigger problem than most acknowledge in my opinion)
- A similar shift to easy-to-insure productions as we come out of the Covid pandemic – self-insured productions have a real advantage here at the expense of locally created deficit-financed productions.
- The possibility that UK production will lose its classification as ‘a European Work’ in the EU’s AVMS quota system (see a number of posts on this) – also a potential post-Brexit bombshell
- Any trade-wars and competitive tax incentives that other countries could involve us in, now Brexit is done…
- The perceived willingness of Studios to produce in the UK – even though the studios may have pre-booked, invested and taken stakes in all of the big studio spaces, this doesn’t mean that they have to stay here. Those obligations could disappear the moment the incentives are removed. (Or, more succinctly, ‘the circus may leave town very suddenly‘)
- the growing consolidation of media ownership into a handful of non-UK corporations
- The slow inevitable decline of linear TV content (i.e. people watching scheduled TV programmes and not SVoD)
The point about the BBC may well be the understatement of the year – in political terms, the BBC is the valuable incubator that is perceived as an irritating news outlet by the politicians and commentators that govern the UK – remember Dominic Cummings’ comment that The Telegraph is the PM’s ‘real boss’? Channel Four also has this problem….
So it’s a perfect storm that could even be cheered on by some parts of the government and commentariat…