UK television exports soar to record high says Pact report as International Trade Secretary Liz Truss visits Yorkshire

UK television exports reached a record high of £1.4billion in 2018/9 according to a new industry report released as International Trade Secretary Liz Truss visited Yorkshire.

Pact’s TV Exports Report published today also shows an increase of seven per cent compared to 2017/8.

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The report publication coincides with a roundtable discussion at industry body Pact’s Leeds office attended today by Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade.

Liz Truss. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

Speaking about the report, she said: “British TV and film exports have had another blockbuster year, with these new figures showing the incredible overseas demand for the UK’s cultural exports."

Ms Truss, who went to Roundhay School in north Leeds, claimed that when the UK leaves the EU there would be "an ambitious new free trade agreement with the States to ensure even more of our industries can benefit from this golden opportunity to improve our trading relationship".

According to the British Film Institute the UK has received more than €53m (£45.5m) of media funding from Creative Europe, the European Union’s funding programme for the audiovisual industry and creative sectors, since began in 2014.

Trade sources in the region have previously told the Yorkshire Post that Brexit is not having a significant effect on the screen industry in the area partly because of the UK's Film Tax Relief, which allows companies to claim back up to 25 per cent of expenditure.

In reference to the report, Ms Truss added: “This sector is hugely important to our economy and we are working hard to ensure its continued success.”

The Pact TV Exports report was produced for Pact by 3Vision with funding partners Department for International Trade, BBC Studios and ITV Studios.

The BBC's Second World War drama World On Fire - which filmed at Braime Pressings metal works in Hunslet, Leeds - has been singled out for its success after reaching 120 territories.

Yorkshire has seen impressive growth in the industry over recent years, set to be further boosted by Channel 4's decision to open a national headquarters in Leeds.

Agencies such as Screen Yorkshire provides opportunities of creatives through its Yorkshire Content Fund, which has support more than 40 major projects since 2012.

Andrew Sheldon, co-creative director of Leeds-based True North, the biggest factual production company outside of London, said: "We make programmes in Yorkshire that are shown around the world, and that’s a reflection of the high esteem that the British screen industries generally are held in. Going forward, there’s a brilliant opportunity for television producers across the North to put themselves at the heart of a global success story."

The new report found that drama (such as Bodyguard) dominated TV sales, with 48 per cent of the total, followed by non-scripted factual (such as Blue Earth II) with 23 per cent and entertainment (such as Love Island) with 15 per cent.

The USA remained the biggest contributor to UK export revenue (£444m), with North America in total representing 38 per cent of all sales.

France (£115m) and Australia (£96m) maintained their positions in the top three biggest export markets.

The Nordics (£85m) followed and showed some of the most accelerated growth.

A number of UK distributors are selling global deals to subscription video on demand companies including Netflix and Amazon and revenue generation from pan-worldwide deals has increased by £21m (56 per cent) in the past year.

MENA (Middle East & North Africa) and Latin America both showed strong growth, with 28 per cent and 29 per cent revenue increases respectively on the previous year.

North America (principally the US) is highlighted as an important partner for co-productions (£81m) and international production revenue (£123m) – this being revenue generated by the overseas production arms of UK companies.

Looking to the future, India, China and Latin America are the territories where UK companies felt there might be the best opportunities for expansion - each of these markets have shown strong revenue growth in the past three years.

Pact’s chief executive, John McVay said: “It’s no surprise that we’re seeing a record year for TV exports. The compelling stories that our creatives craft resonate beyond borders. It’s fantastic to see the success of the TV industry – and in particular drama – contributing so much to the UK economy.”

Paul Dempsey, president of Global Distribution, BBC Studios, said: “More than ever, British television is internationally recognised as world class. The quality of work our programme makers are producing is second to none and it’s an absolute privilege to take their output to audiences across the globe.”

Ruth Berry, managing director of ITV Studios Global Entertainment, said: "We are delighted to see that UK exports are at an all-time high and going from strength to strength.

"This year we have seen pre-sales for our epic World War Two drama, World On Fire, reach 120 territories and the forthcoming, hugely anticipated The War of the Worlds selling right across the world to over 220 territories before being broadcast in the UK.

"With our spellbinding natural history series Magical Land of Oz also finding a home in more than 125 territories, these titles alone support the findings of the report and we are excited about the increasing global appetite for UK content."

Pact is the trade association representing the commercial interests of UK independent television, film, digital, children’s and animation media companies.