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UK Film and Television Industry

Volume 706: debated on Thursday 6 January 2022

The Government’s actions helped the film and TV industry bounce back from the pandemic, with production now stronger than ever. Our support includes the £500 million production restart scheme, supporting over 88,000 jobs, and the cultural recovery fund, supporting over 200 independent cinemas. We have also built on the UK global screen fund.

One reason why we have such a successful TV and film production sector in this country is the broad ecosystem of large, medium and small businesses that all contribute to that global success. Could I take the Minister back to the point raised earlier about Channel 4? Can she reassure me that specific regard is being given to the small and medium-sized businesses in my constituency and across the north of England who rely on Channel 4 for their first entry into network television commissions? What steps is she taking to ensure they are not disadvantaged?

I would like to provide him with those reassurances. That is very much on my mind, and that of the Secretary of State, as we look at this issue. I read with interest my hon. Friend’s piece in The Times on Channel 4 and levelling up, and the contribution that the broadcaster makes in that regard. In so far as we are minded to sell—no decision has yet been taken—it would be done in order to secure the future of the broadcaster and looking at the wider sector. I assure him that the independent production sector is doing incredibly well and is moving away from a reliance on the public service broadcasters anyway.

I appreciate the support given to our TV industry. However, a big question remains on the viability of the BBC licence fee in today’s modern society. With hundreds of commercial and subscription channels currently available, I urge the Minister to look at the possibility of phasing out this outdated payment model and to consider other options for the BBC to be able to fund itself.

The current licence fee funding model is fixed for the rest of the charter, until 2027, but we will be reviewing the model well in advance of the next charter period. We are considering all options. I appreciate the concerns he raises, which I know are shared by a number of others.