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Indie TV Production Sector Working Harder During Recession

UK independent television producers have managed to weather the continual decline in broadcasters' production budgets by increasing exports and efficiency, said an independent trade body, following the launch of their latest report on the independent production sector.
The Pact Financial Census and Survey 2010, by Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates Ltd for Pact, showed that overall revenues for the independent production sector remained flat at £2.2bn, despite primary UK commissions – the primary source of revenue for independent producers - declining by over £100m (or 7.5%). Increased international revenues helped to offset the decline in UK primary revenues while sector profitability has been maintained partly through cost cutting.
Chief Executive for Pact, John McVay said: "In the midst of a recession it is an achievement in itself for any sector to maintain revenues, particularly in television where programming budgets have been so widely cut. As a result, indies have injected £200m into programming budgets to ensure the quality of UK television remains high. This is clear evidence of the entrepreneurial spirit of the sector."
The Pact Financial Census, now in its fifth year, has become the authoritative source of information on the performance and prospects of the UK independent production sector. Alongside the census, the policy survey is targeted at senior industry executives and designed to capture views on key trends including the prospects for the sector over the next three years.
The key findings include:
  • Industry revenues were flat at £2.2bn despite a £100m decline in the key source of income, primary UK commissions
  • Domestic declines in part offset by a significant increase in international revenues: a 12.4% increase in international sales of UK finished programmes and a 32.2% increase in 'other' international income (revenue from companies overseas operations and any primary commissions received from non-UK broadcasters)
  • Cost reductions have played a key part in offsetting declining domestic revenues: 62% of respondents indicated a cut in overheads and 29% cited managing costs via redundancies
  • Indies' contribution to financing UK programming has risen to around £200m per year
The majority of respondents believed that primary prices, commissions from networks and profit margins will all decline over the next three years, making international revenues even more important. In addition, over 85% think that gap financing – the gap between what a production costs and what a commissioning broadcaster will pay – will continue to increase, putting further pressure on profit margins and the need for other sources of revenue.
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