U.K. TV exports soar by 25% in 2008

Format programming, sales to digital platforms proving popular

LONDON -- U.K. TV exports soared by 25% to £980 million ($1.6 billion) in 2008, driven by a 65% hike in sales to Australia and New Zealand, according to new figures from independent producers' body Pact published Friday.

The annual U.K. TV Exports Survey found that sales to the U.S. accounted for 36% of all U.K. TV sales -- some £350 million ($573 million) -- including television formats and finished programs.

Sales of finished programming grew 20% to £469 million ($768 million), licensing revenues grew 66% to £215 million ($352 million), but the volume of co-productions decreased by 28% to £41 million ($67 million) over the 12-month period.

Sales to digital platforms continued to be a major growth area, with exports to digital broadcasters in Asia up 57%, Eastern Europe up 43% and Canada up 42%.

"This report shows that a good TV format can transcend cultural barriers and deliver a powerful message," said Andew Cahn, chief executive of exports organization U.K. Trade & Investment.

"It celebrates the quality of British television and brilliant minds that continue to make the U.K.'s creative industries global leaders in their fields," he noted.

The research was sponsored by trade bodies including Pact, U.K. Trade & Investment and producers including the BBC and ITV.