RTS Cambridge Convention 2013: Terms of Trade - Time for a Change?

RTS Cambridge Convention 2013: Terms of Trade - Time for a Change?

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Thursday, 12th September 2013

The panel of industry leaders said the terms of trade that govern how independent production companies deal with UK public service broadcasters should remain as they are.

Martin Baker, director of commercial affairs, Channel 4, Anne Bulford, the BBC’s new managing director of finance and operations, and Pact CEO John McVay all agreed that the present arrangements should remain in place.

However, McVay noted that, strictly speaking, details of the terms of trade had been re-negotiated on several occasions since they were first introduced almost a decade ago.

Broadly, Baker and Bulford, a member of the original committee that recommended the changes, agreed that the terms of trade were working well.

However, Bulford warned that at some point in the future “a tipping point” would occur, necessitating a new agreement between indies and broadcasters as online platforms commissioned more original content.

There was a consensus that enabling producers to retain rights on shows ordered by UK PSBs had brought benefits across the value chain by building a thriving independent sector that is the envy of the world.

Even so, session chairman Steve Hewlett noted that there had been hiccups along the way. He recalled how when Greg Dyke was the BBC’s director-general Dyke memorably said it was not the corporation’s job to enrich independent producers.

“The terms of trade,” Bulford added,” were a deliberate market intervention to rebalance the playing field and transfer value in terms of secondary rights to give the (indie) sector a proper opportunity to grow and thrive in everybody’s interest – the broadcasters, the viewer and the UK creative economy.”

The session was produced by Helen Scott.

Report by Steve Clarke. Photo by Paul Hampartsoumian.

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