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15/08/2005

British films excel at the cinema but scarce on television

Last year saw the second highest cinema admissions for 32 years, with British films accounting for a quarter of the box office (23%), an increase of 49% on 2003.
Yet terrestrial broadcasters are still failing to show British films on television according to figures published by the UK Film Council.
The UK Film Council’s report, ‘The RSU Statistical Yearbook 2004/5’, gives in-depth analysis of every aspect of the British film industry, from film production and employment to cinema-going.
The report found that not only did British films do well in the UK, they also fared well abroad. They represented almost 11% of releases at the US box office, up from just fewer than 8% in 2003.
UK films had a 13.5% share of the French market in 2004 (up from 5% in 2003), rising to a 17% share in Germany (up from 7% in 2003).
But, despite 2237 films receiving more than 2.6 billion viewing instances in 2004, only 5.3% of the total films shown on network television were recent UK films, despite cinema figures showing that people love to see good British films.
Foreign language films faired even worse with only 2.7% being shown on terrestrial television.
ITV showed no foreign language films the whole year and only 3.3% of the films it screened were recent UK films.
A Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report published in December 2004 has urged the BBC specifically to improve its involvement in the UK film industry.
The report, entitled ‘A Public BBC’, stated: “We recommend the BBC publish a strategy for promoting UK films, and should do so in concert with the UK Film Council. We further believe there is a strong case for a substantial increase in BBC funding for both feature films and short films and in the exhibition of modern UK films.”
John Woodward, the UK Film Council’s Chief Executive Officer remarking on the latest figures, said: “The demand to see more recent British films at the cinema and on television is clearly stronger than ever. With a large proportion of the British public believing that TV companies should support the British film industry by showing more new UK-made films, it is essential that the BBC should lead the way in giving audiences greater access to new British films on television and invest more heavily in UK film talent.”
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