A number of players from the film and TV industry gave evidence yesterday to the House of Lords Communications Committee inquiry into British Film and TV.
Lord Puttnam, Michael Kuhn, director of Qwerty Films, Martin Smith, special advisor, Ingenious Media, James Clayton, chief executive of Ingenious Investments and Andrew Noakes, associate producer with Eon Productions all gave evidence.
The Committee questioned the industry members on the prospects for the UK film and TV industries and the topics of discussion included piracy, the UK tax credit and the difficulties of raising film finance.
Speaking after the session, Noakes, associate producer of Casino Royale said: “Piracy is a huge problem for the industry, it’s a huge bone of contention for us. We want the law changed, we want it to be illegal to record a film in a cinema with a camcorder.”
Smith and Clayton of Ingenious had prepared a submission for the committee which stated: “In the absence of effective action – nationally and internationally – to combat piracy, the film industry is faced with a collapse in profits.”
Their submission outlined a number of problems stemming from digital technology. The main points made were:
- Revenues in traditional media companies are declining with potentially severe consequences for future investments.
- Traditional media companies are struggling to transform themselves away from reliance on outdated delivery systems such as DVD.
- Digital delivery mechanisms, primarily via broadband and mobile, have enabled consumers to access content without paying for it.
- A widespread cultural attitude has been fostered, particularly among the young, that content is free.
In terms of the new business models for online and mobile distribution of audiovisual content they said: “To our knowledge none of these models are currently generating sustained revenues or significant profits.”
Evidence was also presented on the role of the UK Film Council (UKFC). Noakes said: “If the UKFC wasn’t there, who would do their job? The council takes every issue into consideration.” He added: “Its work is invaluable to the industry.” Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions sits on the UKFC board.
The submission from Ingenious argued that “the UKFC cannot meet its objectives stated at their most ambitious level because it does not have the levers at its disposal that would be necessary to deliver success. There is a sharp disconnect between means and ends in the Council’s remit and powers.”
The committee is due to finish the inquiry at the end of the year. It will then prepare a report for the House of Lords and may make recommendations or call for a debate in the house. Any recommendations could be implemented by the Government.