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David Puttnam

What has the EU ever done for my … TV viewing?

What has the EU ever done for my … TV viewing?

01 June, 2016

What has the EU ever done for my … TV viewing?

Television in Britain has come a long way since the days of the “Europudding” – costly 1980s drama flops involving several European countries that no one wanted to watch.

International co-productions of high-quality TV dramas are now commonplace and made with a global audience in mind. UK programme-makers increasingly turn to partners in the US, Australia and New Zealand, and Europe also plays its part.

A big exporter of television around the world, UK sales of shows and formats to Europe are worth about £380m a year.

How a vote to leave the EU would affect this is at the forefront of the sector’s concerns, both in terms of sales of UK content abroad and international co-productions being made in the UK. 

A media industry survey by Broadcast and Screen International’s owner, MBI, last month said 67% of respondents thought Brexit would have a negative impact. MBI’s chief executive, Conor Dignam, said: “High-end drama tends to bring together a number of funders from international markets. Would that stop if we were not part of the European Union? Probably not. Would it make it more difficult? Potentially.”

Producers say homegrown expertise and tax relief draw programme-makers to the UK, not the EU.

The EU’s media programme, part of its Creative Europe scheme, has a more direct impact and invested €100m (£78m) into the UK’s audiovisual sector between 2007 and 2013. It provided funding for shows including BBC1’s Daphne du Maurier adaptation Jamaica Inn, the detective drama Hinterland, which aired on the BBC and the Welsh language channel S4C, and Sky Atlantic’s John Hurt thriller The Last Panthers.

The media programme also part-funded children’s series such as Shaun the Sheep and Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom, and films including Todd Haynes’ Carol, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, and the acclaimed Amy Winehouse documentary Amy.

The Chariots of Fire producer and former Channel 4 deputy chairman David Puttnam has warned that film, TV and creative industries would be “massively impoverished” by life outside of the EU.

Last year’s time travelling sci-fi drama The Refugees was the first co-production with a European partner – Atresmedia in Spain – for the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

The EU has also made significant interventions in the UK market in terms of regulation of film and sports rights, and issues such as access to on-demand services abroad.

Source: The Guardian 

Written by John Plunkett 

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