More from the Royal Television Society event in Cambridge (via Variety) – something that reinforces two big concerns for us in this area:
- ever-tightening commissioning budgets that squeeze working conditions in one way or another
- concerns about where the Intellectual Property goes – a long term timebomb for UK production
Firstly, the good news though. Or good news in the short-term from an investment point of view: Netflix are keen on more unscripted co-productions with UK PSBs, which means that – in the short-term at least, ‘UK Commissions’ will be able to keep pace with the huge SVoD budgets and won’t be edged out of the race for scarce capacity.
But in the discussion between Brandon Riegg, (LA-based VP for unscripted and documentaries at Netflix), Ralph Lee (BBC Studios), Sanjay Singhal (Voltage TV) and Jane Turton (All3Media), this…..
“…while British producers lost out on secondary and tertiary income accruing from retaining intellectual property rights, they gained from the higher tariffs paid out by streamers like Netflix, who typically keep all IP.
Even without retaining rights, the British producers were in favor of keeping a production portfolio ticking over.”
… does look like the kind of short-termism that UK PLC (if not large production companies that are part of consolidated PLC media groups) will come to regret in the long run.
Whatever. It is already being noticed that UK production sector is very busy, but facing a shortage of experienced personnel, and that production companies are struggling to meet rising costs at their end without any corresponding increase in commissioning budgets.
In a nutshell, that may be a variation on the complaint that Bectu officials hear more than any other from members in the unscripted areas: What can we do to stop commissioners forcing us all into a race to the bottom? It’s certainly an imperfectly functioning market, almost-but-not-quite a monopsony, and the skills shortage won’t sort itself out until the industry is one that the right people really want to work in.
One could be mischievous and suggest it’s an industry that currently selects for masochism more than it does for the talents it needs….