U.K. distribs brace for a tough year

People Q&A
February 1, 2003

People Q&A

Q: You were recently quoted saying, ‘The distribution sector, like many, will have a tough year ahead.’ Why?

A: ome aspects of the ITC [Independent Television Commission] program supply review have been incorporated in a new communications bill, which is due to come out in June or July. The aspect that affects distributors more than any other is the unbundling of rights. It gives more opportunity to a wider range of distributors, but it can dilute the role of the distributor.

Q: How does this affect producers?

A: Producers will have more choice in terms of which distributor they work with, and more leverage. Also, we need to work closer with producers, certainly in an environment of change, and the communications bill heralds that change.

Q: Compare the U.K. distribution sector with other markets.

A: Exports of TV programs worldwide is about US$4 billion. The U.K. exports are about 12% of the worldwide market, the U.S. has around 75% of that market, and the rest of the world makes up about 13%. So, the U.K. distribution market is healthy and is growing. But, within those figures what is actually growing are the deals on licensing and merchandise, formats licensing and local production. TV sales have dipped slightly over the past four years. What that tells me is distributors have to continually reinvent the way they sell programming to the same customers.

Q: The BTDA is in discussion with Reed Midem on several issues, including the cost of attending the MIP markets. Is it conceivable that distributors not attend?

A: I doubt that distributors as a whole would pull out of MIPTV and MIPCOM. However, unless things change with certain issues, more distributors will find different ways of exploiting their programming, and rely less and less on the markets.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.