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During his keynote speech at the Royal Television Society (RTS) Cambridge Convention, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale announced that Ofcom is to conduct a review into the terms of trade and whether the regulations remain the most effective means of supporting small independent producers in their negotiations with broadcasters, in light of significant – and probably continuing – changes in the relative size and strength of the different parties.
Pact – the trade association representing the commercial interests of UK independent television, film, digital, children’s and animation media companies – has said that it is disappointed that yet again, the publicly-owned broadcasters appear to have lobbied for another review of the terms of trade outside of the legitimate regular reviews required under legislation.
In a Statement, Pact said it will use every means possible to defend the interests of the British indie sector made up of small private businesses who are facing yet another period of instability which can only damage investment and growth.
If the next review finds that there is no case to answer, then it would be incumbent on Channel 4, the BBC and Government to guarantee a period of time where there would be no further threats, in order to give businesses and investors confidence, suggests Pact.
Pact Chair Laura Mansfield said: “Ofcom’s very recent PSB Review found that ‘overall, the system appears to be functioning effectively’ so it is utterly astonishing that the Culture Secretary should call for them to yet again review the terms of trade. Given that the terms of trade are there to help and support qualifying indies and entrepreneurs who need it – such as my indie Outline – and do not apply to the non-qualifying indies, I just don’t understand why a government which champions small businesses would want to create such instability.”
Pact will be planning a thorough response to the review.