ITV Cymru Wales is pleased to contribute to the Welsh Assembly’s0 Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee inquiry into film and major TV production in Wales[1]. We hope our observations help to constructively inform the Committee on its scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s funding strategy.  

Our production arm, ITV Studios (owner of Boom Cymru), is the largest and most successful production company in the UK, making programmes for ITV’s own channels and for other UK and global networks. ITV Studios has teams based around the world and its sales and distribution arm has a catalogue of over 40,000 hours of quality television and film. 

Overall, ITV invests around £1 billion a year in programming, the vast majority of which is in original UK content, and the scale and reach of ITV can be of immense benefit for Welsh producers. However, as a commercially funded producer - and free-to-air public service broadcaster - ITV does not directly depend or benefit from direct public funding support for the programming it creates.

The investment made by all the public service broadcasters in original UK content, has made television production a significant industry in Wales - and we welcome the Welsh Government’s commitment to find ways to best support the industry here.  

In both a UK and global context, we believe the industry in Wales has much to offer: a diverse range of creative and innovative production companies; a dual language culture; opportunities for economies of scale via “back to back” productions in both English and Welsh; large scale drama studios and technical facilities; world class performers and storytellers; a highly skilled workforce of technicians and craft expertise; stunning physical landscapes and so forth.

We note that the Welsh Government has a number of funding schemes available, including the £30 million Media Investment Fund, which can provide commercial funding for TV and film productions on terms and conditions that bring a return of investment to Wales; and the Wales Screen Fund with support for audio-visual projects. We note that the 21 productions funded by the latter have to date achieved over £75 million spend on Welsh goods and services.

Recent initiatives to establish large scale drama studio facilities in Wales - and with that a pipeline of high end productions in development - has the potential to cement Wales’ growing reputation as an international television production hub. This is particularly timely given the emergence of disruptive and powerful new entrants in the form of tech giants such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple which are having a gamechanging impact on the UK’s PSBs and traditional business models.

These are positive initiatives, but it is also the case that many Welsh production companies operate on small turnovers where Welsh Government support can make all the difference between a future that is either sustainable or uncertain. 

Of course, inward investment is vitally important - but so too is investment in the indigenous industry that has so successfully maintained a lasting legacy of highly skilled jobs in Wales.

In this regard, whatever strategy the Welsh Government decides to pursue, we believe it is vital that it maintains clear transparency in its decision making and that it works hard to ensure the support is easily accessible for all the players in the Welsh sector.

In particular, we note the demise of Skillset Cymru and the risk of a strategy and funding gap emerging in the critically important areas of sector data mapping, research and development, and skills development.

Additionally, the paucity of large studio facilities for non-drama TV productions is inhibiting the Welsh sector's ability to offer big, ambitious entertainment-style formats to UK broadcasters.

Mechanisms that effectively support the development of non-scripted productions - a crucial part of the television industry in Wales, supporting a great many jobs - should also be considered as part of a broad Government approach. 

 

 

In summary, it is our view that the Welsh Government’s strategy for the television industry in Wales should look to:

 

        Have a clear vision for the sector in Wales, its funding policy and the criteria that supports it;

        Have triple strategy of supporting productions that would: a) bring investment to Wales; b) reflect Wales to Welsh audiences; c) project Wales to international markets and audiences;  

        Balance the need for attracting inward investment with a

     sustainable future for Wales-based production companies;

        Draw up a comprehensive sectoral skills audit across Wales;

        Prioritise clarity and transparency in the awarding of funding;

        Market and communicate its plans effectively to all potential beneficiaries and stakeholders.

 

 

 



[1] Major TV production is defined as costing a minimum of £1 million per hour to make.