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TV Production Beyond London 'Drops 16%'

The level of network television produced outside London's 'M25 zone' is showed a sharp drop of 16% in 2008 compared with 2007, according to Pact's 3rd annual Production Trend Report released today.
The Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, (Pact), report showed that London was still the source of the vast majority of UK network television, producing 70% in 2008, or 11,844 hours (excluding news) across the five terrestrial channels.
The number of hours produced outside London decreased 16% to 4990 hours although overall spend was up 24% year on year.
Regionally, the English regions saw the greatest drop, down 17% to 4569 hours, but this was partly due to two ITV1 productions, Glitterball and Make Your Play, coming to an end in 2007.
Scotland saw a 5% decrease to 284 hours, with independent production falling 15% and broadcaster network hours falling 9%.
This was offset somewhat, however, with a 7% increase in spend. In addition there were increases in Wales and Northern Ireland, with Wales up 20% to 118 hours and Northern Ireland up three hours (17%) to 19.
The figures reflect the low level of programming commissioned in the Nations and Regions compared to London, particularly when populations are taken into account. London's contribution equates to 92 minutes of network production per thousand head of population, compared with the North West - the most prolific outside London in terms of volume - that contributes just nine minutes per thousand head of population, and Northern Ireland and North East England produce just two minutes each.
Pact senior policy executive Dawn McCarthy-Simpson said the Pact Production Trend Report acts as a watchdog on the broadcasters and Ofcom's own report, to ensure public service broadcasters comply with their quota obligations to commission programming outside London.
It was also a contributor to Ofcom's recent decision to publish their full register of programmes produced outside London, as opposed to aggregated spend and volume figures they have traditionally published.
"Network programming outside London has been declining since 2004 and remains a long way from the levels we need for it to really reflect the society we live in and offer opportunities to the huge pool of talent in the nations and regions.
"We welcome Ofcom's decision to make public their full data regarding which programmes have been produced in which Nation or region so that there is greater transparency about the level of commissioning outside London."
Other key findings in the report include that the North West of England remains the largest supplier of network programming amongst the English regions, despite a decrease of 55% and that the North East saw a decrease in network production hours from 61 to 32, but spend increased 24%, partly due to an increase in drama production.
Meanwhile, the Midlands produced 853 hours in 2008 compared with 554 in 2007, in part due to ITV1's new late-night show Nightwatch with Steve Scott (166 hours) and 75% of BBC1's network programming hours were sourced from London, compared with 70% of BBC2’s, 65% of ITV1's and 42% of Channel 4s.
Pact is the UK trade association representing independent television, feature film, animation and new media.
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