Both ITV and Five have argued for revised terms of trade – in Five’s words to “better reflect the changing balance of risk and reward in broadcaster-funded content”. Five head of regulatory affairs Martin Stott told Broadcast the model needed a full rethink. He said: “There was a shift towards producers, but maybe it ought to be shifted back the other way. Because the terms apply only to the PSBs, they need to reflect the changing market and remain proportionate.”
Last month, ITV director of television, channels and online Peter Fincham urged indies to be more flexible in their dealings with the broadcaster as the industry heads into “choppy financial waters”. His comments echoed ITV executive chairman Michael Grade’s ongoing campaign to deregulate the independent supply market.
Channel 4 has to date stood by its terms, despite pressure on its programming budget. However, communications, technology and broadcasting minister Stephen Carter is looking at re-evaluating them to help secure C4’s future as part of his Digital Britain report.
None of this bodes well for the beleaguered indie sector, although PACT continues to strongly defend the terms of trade agreed with broadcasters in its PSB review submission. It claimed the arrangement enables the UK PSB system to find ways of maintaining high levels of investment in UK content.It also argued that the terms have helped producers to widen consumer choice by leveraging their secondary rights.