Regional TV Production Remains 'Too Low'

An modest rise in levels of TV production from NI and other regions has failed to allay criticism from the UK trade association that represents independent feature film and television companies.

Pact said this week that the level of television produced in Northern Ireland increased 18% in 2008 compared with 2007, according to their 3rd annual Production Trend Report just released.

The report showed that network production in Northern Ireland increased from a very low base of just 17.7 hours in 2007 to 19 hours in 2008, most (15 hours) of which was on BBC channels.

Channel Five did not commission any network programming from Northern Ireland in 2008 and Channel 4 commissioned just one hour.

The small increase comes after years of lobbying for change by Pact.

The first Pact Production Trend Report, which covered 2006, illustrated the need for intervention in television production outside London and was a catalyst for the BBC developing their 'Out of London' strategy, launched in 2008.

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.
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Scotland saw a 5% decrease to 284 hours, Wales was up 20% to 118 hours and Northern Ireland was up 17% to 19 hours.

Pact's Northern Ireland representative, Jannine Waddell said it was even more important that there is an increased focus on production outside London by the broadcasters, to deliver a more culturally diverse offering on UK television.

"Northern Ireland has a lower ratio of network hours to head of population than any other region in the UK, and that is hugely detrimental to all UK viewers," she said.

"While we welcome the BBC's valuable contribution, it should not be left entirely to them. We would like to see Channel 4 make a similar commitment in order to truly fulfil their PSB obligations," she continued.

Meanwhile, other key findings in the report include that of the 4,990 hours commissioned outside London in 2008, just 19 were commissioned from Northern Ireland.

It also found that London was the source of the majority of UK network television, producing 70% in 2008, or 11,844 hours (excluding news) across the five terrestrial channels and, overall, this was a decrease of 16% for the Nations and Regions, although overall spend was up 24% year on year.


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