Providing a pertinent barometer on the state of the international television sales market, the British Television Distributors' Association has announced its export statistics for 2001.

Sales of British television programmes to the US and Canada rose by 19.2% and 31.5% respectively, compared to 2000, accounting for $199m and $22m. Sales to Germany were static, rising just 0.1% to $59m. However, exports to France and Spain plummeted by 25.7% to $37m and 21.8% to $22m respectively.

Exports to Australia and New Zealand also dropped 9% to $59m, while Asian sales fell 9.6% to $46m.

The figures provide a useful snapshot of the global TV sales market, as the UK industry is second to the US in terms of export sales.

Mirroring the difficulties that many international film producers are having in raising co-production finance because of the collapse of the TV pre-sales market, the BTDA noted that income from co-production - a major growth area in 2000 (up 45%) - only grew by five percent in 2001.

"Funding big budget, ambitious drama, animation and wildlife programmes is increasingly difficult and investment from overseas partners is often the only way some of these shows get made. However, many of the traditional partners had a tough time in their own markets in 2001 and as a result had less to invest in UK productions," said the BTDA in a statement.

Much of the UK export sales success was driven by two hit shows: BBC Worldwide's The Weakest Link and Hit Entertainment's Bob The Builder.