UK General Election: Producers wishlists as country prepares for polls

London (Source: AdobeStock)

It has been a busy week for the UK’s TV & film producers, with the long-awaited Media Bill making its way through the House of Lords yesterday before Parliament is dissolved.

The move followed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement this week that a general election is to take place on 4 July – but what does the industry want to hear from those vying for their votes?

Sian Price, creative director, Yeti Television

In light of shrinking budgets and pressure on budgets, I would love to see tax credits extended to include mid to lower tariff factual television. I would also welcome Nations and Regions quotas – specific to those areas rather than a catch-all ‘out of London’ percentage and reserved for genuine N&R companies where the execs and HQ are actually in those regions!

Ed Kellie, founder & executive producer, Screendog

A quick, simple, free thing they could do (but won’t) is reverse the brexit so called ‘trade deal’ so we don’t have to pay 20% withholding tax on all European sales and bring back EU Co Production partnerships. And forge a TV co production treaty with America. With UK (and US) production dying on its knees, frictionless international co production partnerships are essential to the industry’s recovery. Our production industry was as big as the car industry and yet in the last two years it has probably halved and over 50% of TV freelancers are out of work. It is dying on its knees and these simple, free moves could help bring it back.

Derek Drennan, MD, Nest Productions

It’s high time the government started helping out TV and film freelancers who’ve been hit by the economic slowdown. We need something like the COVID relief funds to give them some financial support – we could access that back then, why not now when conditions are just as bad, if not arguably worse? There should be stronger policies in place to back talent – if not we will lose more talented people for avoidable reasons, which is fatal for our industry particularly in light of the new studios popping up over the country. Plus, unscripted independent production companies in the UK need clear tax credit support, just like the scripted ones. This would make things much fairer and help the unscripted industry grow.

Danny Sanz, CEO of The ATS Team

We need government-led initiatives for independent production companies, with opportunity to pitch and present their original content and ideas, as well as award grants or funding to produce selected concepts for further distribution.

The UK industry would welcome government supported schemes for TV and Film production funding and financing with banks.

We would like to see wider policies around increasing inclusivity, diversity and equality. This is especially important since the recent discussions around the proportion of mid and lower class employees in the media decreasing. Perhaps favouring education in media studies, internships and training between certain collectives?

Finally, perhaps in sight of a probable Labour government and remembering Tony Blair’s era of “Cool Britannia” and how the UK had a much better image in Europe during that time, it would also be a great initiative to incentivise productions that reflect how diverse, modern, open minded and full of life the UK is. To showcase a young, vibrant, international and diverse UK.

Nicola Hartley, CEO and Founder of Mint&Co

The industry needs more people willing to invest in content production, and not just the usual suspects, with concrete financial incentives for them to do so. Commissioners have lost their bottle due to reducing subscriptions for the streamers, reducing ad revenues for ad-supported platforms and broadcasters, reducing budgets for BBC and moving more in-house.

Perhaps government needs to fund/support platforms and broadcasters specifically for making available such funds as commissioning budget to producers. But also I think it’s about producers being smarter with their IP, diversifying their product offerings across multiple media, exploiting ancillary rights and so on. We offer training on such topics.

I think investment in strategy training for the production sector would also be useful so they can see where all the opportunities are for exploiting their programming outside the UK as well as inside the UK, as well as looking at the wider IP context and not just the narrower exploitation of the programming content itself.

Michael Nakan, CEO & founder of Envision Entertainment

The UK has some of the best creative talent, crew and locations for film and TV in the world: that’s why Barbie was shot in Hertfordshire and not in Hollywood. What we don’t have is the right investment environment to support local British creatives and production companies, who are eager to create and own their own IP that is both British and profitable.

Whoever ends up in Downing Street needs to take urgent action to create the market conditions to give investors the confidence to fund homegrown projects, or else the UK runs the risk of becoming a service economy for Hollywood forever – and nobody wants an ending where the Empire wins, do they?

Sarah Drummond, MD of LS Productions

It is very clear the UK Industry and the system of support surrounding it requires substantive review. For LS Productions, a company founded in Scotland and operating across the North West there are three areas of immediate concern.

With the UK rebate being outstripped by other nations there is an obvious Catch 22 – our industry is worth billions but the effect of increasing rebates is therefore potentially cost prohibitive. The new Low Budget Film offering is very interesting as it represents a specific, genre focussed enhanced value which will drive positive impact. There is value to this model of targeted support. And we’d want to see more. Offering rebates to non-British Reality TV would offer major growth to the industry without damaging a domestic business. It would be a net enhancer.

Regional Support. As with so much else, the industry suffers from a SE focus. As with all other areas of business, this is a challenge and one that rapidly becomes political, inhibiting true progress. Scotland has Creative Scotland / Screen Scotland and both Wales and N Ireland have similar. The North of England has nothing, yet is a major industry hub on the cusp of offering tremendous value. It needs support.

Fragility. The recent US strikes, alongside the downturn have shown how vulnerable the UK has become… it is an industry far more dependent upon the US – studios and streamers – than we truly appreciated. The impact across the creative services ecosystem was devastating and is still being felt. The UK is very vulnerable and a national review is required.

Nikki Parrott, MD, Tigerlily

In Scotland we really punch above our weight in terms of creative production but most of us are quite small companies so money for business development is vital for us to grow and develop for the International market. The creative industries in Scotland are thriving but we really need to make sure that kids from working class backgrounds get a bite of that apple too… we really should not make people pay to get into the arts because if we do we will lose so many distinctive and authentic voices and then the arts will just be full of the same people, people that can afford it.

So more money for small creative companies to grow and more money for kids from working class backgrounds to be helped get into the arts please. Let us grow – give us the help to punch higher!

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