U.K. indies invest $291 mil in TV content

Report claims broadcaster commissioning investment falling

LONDON -- As broadcasters pay less for show commissions, U.K. independent producers are investing up to £190 million ($291 million) of their own funds to finance new shows, a new report said Monday.

The report, commissioned by U.K. producers body Pact and carried out by Oliver and Ohlbaum Associates, found that the U.K.'s independent production community was "increasingly funding the gap" to keep commissions afloat.

Hardest hit has been drama, where 42% of shows now require gap-financing, compared with just 2% of daytime shows.

The report said that the U.K.'s big four broadcasters -- the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Five -- account for 90% of all commissioned programs in the U.K..

But their commissioning investment has fallen by 16% "in real terms" since 2006, forcing producers to finance program production through the sale of international rights.

"It is no coincidence that exports of U.K. television content are up 39% on 2003," said John McVay, chief executive of Pact.

"This report shows that the independent production sector is reinvesting those revenues and has become a significant investor in the production of U.K."

The report comes ahead of a review by the government into possible changes to the quota systems that guaranteed U.K. indies space on the major networks here.