TV Drama Set For Creative Financing While Film Revenue Continues to Grow.

We can also expect a move towards more creative financing of drama, the best recent example being ITV1”s Downton Abbey whose cost was underwritten by US studio NBC Universal, the owner of UK producer Carnival. This, of course, has interesting implications for independent drama producers, who will increasingly need to come to ITV with some idea of how they plan to subsidise the financing of shows, rather than expecting the channel to fully-fund.

Unknowns this year include Sky”s plans for new acquisition Living and the strategic direction that Richard Desmond will take new toy Channel 5. However, the likelihood is that both channels will continue to focus on celebrity culture, a space they currently occupy with ITV spin-off ITV2.

The prospects for film are also mixed. While the government has been trying to convince the sector that it will be business as usual following the closure of the UK Film Council (due in 2012), it remains to be seen if a beefed up British Film Institute will be able to effectively champion the domestic sector on seriously reduced budgets. The hope is that the BFI will be as effective as the UKFC in backing projects like The King”s Speech, which has emerged as the most talked about film of the current winter season.

Film as a whole, like PayTV, has proved relatively recession-proof, with the UK box office beating the £1 billion mark for the last two years. While much of that is down to US studio content such as Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland and the latest installment of the Harry Potter franchise, the good news for the UK is that it continues to attract studio, location and post-production work. Pinewood, after a sticky 2010, looks set to grow revenues in 2011.

Elstree is also having a good run of film work, which has offset a dearth of TV jobs. Looking ahead, Elstree boss Roger Morris wants to double the studio space at Elstree to diversify the range and scale of productions it can welcome.  

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