Outspoken British academic and film producer Colin MacCabe has called for the British Film Institute (BFI) to take over the research and statistics work currently carried out by the UK Film Council.

In a wide-ranging article published this week in current affairs magazine Prospect, MacCabe argues that the statistics compiled by UKFC “reflect rather too well on the Council”. In particular, he has challenged the claim made in this year’s UKFC Statistical Yearbook that UK films accounted for 15% of the global box office.

“No breakdown of this figure was given, making it impossible to distinguish between Hollwyood studio pictures made in this country, like the Harry Potter films, and those films actually made by British independents,” he writes. “No government can make policy on such misleading statistics.”

MacCabe, who headed the BFI Production Board from 1985 to 1989, argues that there is “still no sign of a sustainable British film industry” today, almost 10 years after the UKFC was formed in 2000. Calling the UKFC “a New Labour folly,” he also questions the effectiveness of its training and distribution policies and attacks its spending record.

A UKFC spokesperson and chairman Tim Bevan declined to comment on the article.

The UKFC and BFI are in ongoing discussions about a possible merger, which aims to streamline the organisations to refocus their resources. Entirely separate to those merger discussions, a consultation on the UKFC’s proposed new three year plan runs until 9 February.

Once the public consultation closes, UKFC will collate all the views and comments and produce a final three year plan, which should be publsihed in late March and which will take effect from 1 April 2010.