INDEPENDENT TV producers say Welsh-made networked programming is in “dramatic if not terminal” decline – despite the success of shows such as Doctor Who and Torchwood.
Pact, which represents independent producers from around the UK, says most of the major terrestrial broadcasters are neglecting Wales, resulting in a brain drain to London.
A report by Pact shows the amount of independent productions made in Wales and shown on network TV between 2004 and 2006 fell from 70 hours to 58.7.
Other parts of the UK are also being overlooked, with Scotland in particular seeing independent broadcast hours drop from 179.6 to 102.7.
While the Production Trend Report for out of London report shows broadcasters are meeting regional quotas designed to ensure a balanced spread of programming from across the UK, this is confined to specific areas.
For example, Yorkshire and Humberside saw independent broadcast hours rise from 397.1 in 2004 to 457.5 in 2006.
A Pact spokesperson said, “The decline has been felt across the board but more noticeably in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, where the decline has been dramatic if not terminal.”
Pact said the data shows an overall fall in independent production opportunities throughout the UK between 2004 and 2006.
ITV did not air any network-shown programmes made by Welsh independents in 2006, and only 9.5 hours were broadcast on the channel in 2004. Channel Five did not broadcast any programmes from Welsh independents in 2005 or 2006.
BBC1 broadcast only one hour of network programming independently produced in Wales in 2006, while BBC2 broadcast about 12.
Shows like Torchwood and Doctor Who do not figure in Pact’s figures because they are produced by the BBC themselves rather than an independent.
The Pact spokesperson said Channel Four did better than the other terrestrial broadcasters, regularly hitting its target of having 30% of its content made by independent producers outside the capital.
Pact’s spokesman for Wales, Richard Staniforth, said the trend is causing a brain drain, with Wales’ best TV talent being forced to move to London to get their shows networked.
Mr Staniforth, a TV producer with Cardiff-based Green Bay Media, said, “All Welsh independent TV production companies find it difficult to attract attention from the London community of network broadcasters.”
A spokesperson for ITV said it performs better than both the BBC and Channel 4 when it comes to commissioning programmes from outside London.
They said, “ITV has the highest non-London commissioning quota of any broadcaster in the UK, including the BBC. We are currently obliged to commission 50% of programmes (by volume and value) from outside the M25.
“By contrast, the BBC’s quotas are 30% by value and 25% by volume, while Channel 4’s is 30% by value and volume.”
A BBC spokesperson said it has devised an “out of London” strategy to increase the number of hours for networked programmes made outside the capital.
“The BBC is committed to a significant increase in network production outside London, which means that, in time, more than half our programme hours will be produced outside the capital.
“The BBC’s out-of-London strategy represents its biggest increased injection of regional investment ever,” they said.
Five declined to comment.