Published on January 31st, 2008 | by Christian Cawley
Welsh TV Not Helped By Upper Boat
Despite the success of Doctor Who, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures, the production facility at BBC Wales doesn’t seem to have helped Welsh television, according to a recent report.
In fact, independent TV producers even go so far as to say that Welsh-made programming is in a “dramatic if not terminal” decline.
A report by Pact shows the amount of independent productions made in Wales and shown on network TV between 2004 and 2006 fell from 70 hours to 58.7.
Pact, which represents independent producers from around the UK, says most of the major terrestrial broadcasters are neglecting Wales, resulting in a brain drain to London.
Other parts of the UK are also being overlooked, with Scotland in particular seeing independent broadcast hours drop from 179.6 to 102.7
And to make matters worse, the BBC’s trio don’t count, because they are made by the BBC. ITV failed to broadcast programmes made by Welsh independent production companies in 2006, and a paltry 9.5 hours were broadcast there in 2004.
Channel Five meanwhile singularly failed to broadcast any programmes from Welsh producers in 2005 or 2006.
Richard Staniforth, a TV producer with Cardiff-based Green Bay Media, said, “All Welsh independent TV production companies find it difficult to attract attention from the London community of network broadcasters.”
A spokesperson for ITV said it performs better than both the BBC and Channel 4 when it comes to commissioning programmes from outside London.
They said, “ITV has the highest non-London commissioning quota of any broadcaster in the UK, including the BBC. We are currently obliged to commission 50% of programmes (by volume and value) from outside the M25.
“By contrast, the BBCâ€™s quotas are 30% by value and 25% by volume, while Channel 4â€™s is 30% by value and volume.”
Government legislation is desperately needed in order to stop original British television from slipping into a mire of decline. Rather than a “Second Golden Age of Telefantasy”, we could be sitting on the edge of an abyss, a plot with a headstone labelled “British Television”.
Make no bones about it. I do not over-exaggerate. This is serious. In an age of makeover shows, quiz shows, cookery shows, reality shows, talent shows and formulaic drama with few risks being taken, this is very serious indeed.