Dyke singles out Sky to provide “greater access for British and specialised films on the Sky platform.”
In his speech at the BFI London Film Festival Awards dinner, BFI chairman Greg Dyke has called for UK broadcasters to do more to support the UK film industry.
Pointing to recent successes from The King’s Speech to Steve McQueen’s Venice prize winner Shame, he said: “I do think that we now have a golden opportunity to help continue it, to build on this momentum.”
He said the UK film industry would benefit from Sky’s investment in UK film production, a move long called for by some industry experts as well as Culture Minister Ed Vaizey. “If Ed can get Sky to invest in British film it would be great, but I would like them to go a step further….to provide much greater access for British and specialised films on the Sky platform, and increase audience choice. It’s time for Sky to step up to the plate and begin a dialogue on how we achieve that.”
He continued: “As last week’s results indicated, Sky is doing incredibly well. After the traumas it has endured over the last few months, there is a real opportunity for Sky to make some new friends - and boy does News International need them – by using its corporate and financial muscle to partner with us in helping the British film industry to grow and then share in the resulting rewards. We welcome the opportunity to develop a significant and close partnership with them.”
He also called for the BBC and Channel 4 to play an important role in the British film industry. “I’d also like to see the BBC and Channel 4, as our key public service broadcasters, do even more to help British film and film culture to the benefit of British audiences - both through their core channels and their online platforms such as the iPlayer and 4oD. As one of the architects of Freeview, Freesat and the iPlayer before I left the BBC, I of all people know the transformative power of digital innovation and what it can do for consumer choice.”
Dyke himself has a strong TV background, working at Channel 5 before serving as director general of the BBC from 2000-2004.
Currently, publicly held BSkyB has no mandate to finance production of British films; Channel 4 promises £15m per year to Film4; BBC Films has a budget of £12m annually.
Piracy was another hot topic for Dyke, as he called on Chris Smith, chair of the Government’s current Film Policy Review, to seriously address piracy. Dyke said: “Thanks to the endless legal challenges from the likes of Talk Talk and BT – which only today received a high court judgement to block illegal filesharing - the measures originally in the Digital Economy Act have still not been enacted eighteen months after the original Bill received Royal Assent in Parliament. Piracy is costing the industry – and therefore the British economy – millions in lost revenue and reinvestment potential. To put it crudely it’s time someone got their finger out.”
The Film Policy Review report is due in December, and the BFI will spearhead its own five-year plan in early 2012.
He also quoted statistics that say film is worth £4.6bn per year to the UK economy; and he noted that the creative industries as a whole deliver 7% of the UK GDP today, up from 5% a decade ago.
Since the Government abolished the UK FIlm Council and made the BFI the lead body for film, Dyke noted “I know there were some – not many I hope - who believed the Government was making a mistake giving this daunting responsibility to the BFI, giving responsibility for the business of film to what they believe is essentially a cultural organisation. I know we’ll prove the Government right and the doubters wrong.”