Indie Club response to Out of London Production proposals

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Cat Lewis

The Indie Club has called on Ofcom to promote sustainable television production outside of the capital.

It comes as the broadcast regulator proposes changes to Out of London Production rules.

The Manchester-based Indie Club believes that in order to qualify as an Out of London production, they should employ regional production staff in senior creative roles and that both pre and post production are routinely completed outside of the capital.

"TV companies in the nations and regions need to be operationally independent, completing each stage of programme-making outside London,” explained Cat Lewis, who is Chair of the Indie Club as well as CEO of MediaCityUK-based Nine Lives Media.

“This will maximise the number of jobs they can create at each stage, which is the intention of the regional production rules in the Communications Act 2003 which Ofcom is regulating.  Working this way also guarantees spending for post-production facility houses and other TV service companies in the nations and regions.  Some broadcasters and London owners of independent companies have insisted edits happen in London in recent years, but that really limits Public Service Broadcaster investment outside the capital.”

Lewis added that Ofcom is already recommending that certain loopholes are closed - not least stopping crewing companies and studios “secretly” employing London-based staff, instead of local crews.

It is also looking at broadcasts, such as, ITV’s Nightscreen, which despite being only graphics and text pages, still counts as a Made Outside London production

The Indie Club also said that it hoped new regulations would prevent the practice of London indies asking freelancers based in the nations and regions to work in the capital “often without being paid expenses.”

“We want every programme registered as Made Outside London to create jobs and leave both a creative and an economic legacy.  We welcome Ofcom tightening the criteria regarding which productions count as regional, particularly because there’s been an overall decline in PSB spending outside London in recent years,” added Indie Club’s CEO Charles Lauder.

“We hope Ofcom’s new regulation, combined with Channel 4 opening offices in Leeds, Glasgow and Bristol, will signal an exciting new era in television production; one where we have a multiplicity of truly diverse voices more reflective of the audiences they serve.”

According to new research from Oliver and Ohlbaum, the North of England is the UK’s most active regional production base, with £543m of original spend. It also has the highest percentage of indigenous producers outside of the capital.

Ofcom is proposing its new regulation will be implemented from January 2020.