There is widespread agreement that the concept of public service media remains valid. Today’s market provides a fantastic array of high-quality content, and a diverse ecosystem of players is needed to produce such content. The current regulatory interventions provide a bedrock of specifically British content, which guarantees a range and volume of UK programming is made available to UK audiences that the market alone would be unlikely to deliver, at least with such scale and breadth. An additional benefit of our competitive mixed media market is that companies continually test the boundaries of possibility when it comes to creating content.
Public service providers play a crucial role in supporting the UK’s television production ecology, and develop a diverse range of independent producers and creative talent right across the Nations and Regions of the UK. This, in turn, is something that the wider market benefits from, and which helps to make the UK such an attractive destination for inward investors.
One of the great strengths of the UK Creative Industries, which contributed £116bn in GVA in 2019, is that it is a truly mixed ecology, where public, private and hybrid organisations each play their part. When actors invest in UK content, they create value and activity within the UK production chain and its supply chain – including workers and businesses across many sectors. They also result in further benefits: from an increased diversity of talent, cultural and civic benefit, innovation and new technologies, soft power, educational tools and an improved awareness of social issues.
The regulatory interventions provided by PSBs supports increased creativity across the four nations, and in turn develops talent all across the UK, ensuring that training reaches those underrepresented in the creative industries, contributing to a more diverse talent pipeline.
The success of the UK media market model has been built on the availability of separate funding streams for different players – the Licence Fee for the BBC and S4C, advertising for the commercial PSBs and subscriptions (predominantly) for pay TV providers. Whilst we recognise policymakers need to take account of changing market conditions, we would urge that they seek, as far as possible, to respect the separation of funding principle that has served the market so well over the past decades.
The media market is indisputably changing and fragmenting rapidly. We would therefore expect to see an increasing amount of partnership working between the PSBs and other providers, as they innovate around ways that they may serve hard to reach audiences, especially younger, more diverse viewers. There may also be new economic policy interventions that could help the delivery of broader public policy goals that would engender support from many of our members. For example, the evolution of the current tax relief aimed at encouraging the production of content across the four nations of the UK, with a specific focus on stimulating additional value, rather than the transfer of value from existing production hubs.
As demand for media content from consumers increases, the opportunity to generate value and impact across the whole of the creative industries, and beyond, can only grow exponentially. Given the existing infrastructure of the media market and the regulatory system, this growth will be spread across existing creative clusters, contributing to local economic, culture and democratic life inside and outside the M25