U.K. Media Regulator Reassures Indie Producers


Shows, such as "Downton Abbey" for ITV and "Parade's End" for the BBC, are examples of independently produced shows on U.K. broadcasters.

LONDON – U.K. media watchdog Ofcom has written to broadcasters about government plans to amend the definition of independent producers for British broadcasters.

The regulator has had to publish the letter to broadcasters to assure them that a mistake made in drafting laws defining what does and does not constitute independent producer status will not lead to action by the regulator.

Shows, such as Downton Abbey for ITV, Parade's End for the BBC and Spooks also for the BBC are all examples of independently produced shows for broadcasters here.

Currently, to hold a broadcasting license granted by Ofcom, broadcasters have to fulfill a slew of obligations, including ensuring that a certain percentage of programming – which varies from broadcaster to broadcaster – is sourced from independent producers.

The BBC has a quota of 25 percent for the amount of its qualifying hours that must be independently produced.

But a slip up in wording and the phrase "connected with" has meant that some producers connected with a broadcaster cannot qualify as an independent producer under the rules, jeopardizing the license requirement tally.

Now, the government's department of culture, media and sport has pledged to alter the wording to clarify and simplify definitions, and Ofcom said it would not review the returns made by broadcasters in 2012 and previous years.

In  the letter, Ofcom director, content policy Peter Davies said: "Ofcom will be in touch with those broadcasters required to make annual returns on independent productions (public service broadcasters) to discuss how future returns should be prepared pending these changes to the law."