thank you very much. I’m happy to talk to RTS in Cambridge again. When I talked last time, I was introduced by VT by Status Quo, which is still one of my precious assets.
I never expected to come back in this situation or in this situation, but it’s a pleasure.
To be clear, the speech I’m about to deliver is a written speech, certainly Oliver Dowden’s intention, but it’s exactly the Secretary’s speech. The state, and I look forward to working with Nadine, who was just appointed this afternoon, as you’ve heard.
Despite everything I’ve experienced at COVID, the UK screen industry is really booming.
The people behind the biggest and most exciting works-Bond, the new Lord of the Rings-can be chosen in any country in the world to make movies and TV shows. And they choose to make them here.
Studios nationwide are in full operation.
From Broxbourne to Birmingham, new things are always open. And from Edinburgh to Elstree.
The country has united as a home of global productivity.
And this is not a coincidence.
The government has worked intensively with you to create this record-breaking environment for our screen industry …
… From quarantine exemption to tax incentives…
… To our Global Screen Fund…
… And with a £ 500m movie and TV restart scheme across the UK, cameras continue to move in production across the pandemic.
The plan helped maintain momentum during COVID and secure hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs in movies, television, and the wider broadcast system.
Politicians always talk about the number of jobs. But these are more than just jobs.
The screen industry is creating meaningful, creative and fulfilling work. The work I want to do, and the work I want my children and grandchildren to do.
And the work these people are working on is influencing the world.
His dark materials. Dracula. Unforgettable. Last year’s largest TV exports were seen in hundreds of regions, from China to Brazil, Australia and South Korea.
Or look at another example. Sex Education: Filmed in Newport, it is the most popular show in Saudi Arabia.
Of course, we celebrate this.
However, it does not address the central theme of this conference, “Britishness”.
Of course, Britishness is an ambiguous concept. That means it’s different for each of us in this room. Still, when it appears on the screen, everyone knows it.
It’s like we all grew up.
Only fools, horses, and dad’s army will bring it.
These days, the British Bake Off and Line of Duty.
And of course, Coronation Street and EastEnders.
In fact, who we are is defined by television.
At the same time, movies, television and radio are the most powerful tools needed to project the best of modern Britain into the world.
Not only to show off our creativity, but there is no doubt that this country is home to some of the most talented creative talents in the world, but our values and our unique identity. Is to be broadcast throughout the globe.
Therefore, as the government looks to the future of broadcasting in this country, we will use the following white paper to preserve the special points of British broadcasting.
First, I would like to make sure that the content made in the UK is actually clearly “UK”.
I’m not talking about waving the Union Flag and Queen photos in every scene.
I’m talking about continuing to make programs that are ours and ours only. It could only have been done in England.
Take the Derry Girls. A show that deals with troubles. The rise and fall of Take That has the same passion. I could only make it here.
Similarly, which other country in the world came up with the concept of a bonker, but did you find it great as a goggle box?
Fleabag is not Fleabag without British irony and self-deprecation.
And the final episode of the Blackadder Goes Force wouldn’t have been so devastating when the squadron culminated without its classic British restraint.
In contrast, some programs are available on demand today.
They can be brilliantly entertaining-but many of them don’t have a real identity, a sense of real place. Some of them appear to have been cleverly generated by streaming algorithms to maximize the target audience globally.
In today’s global broadcast world, where investment is increasingly driven by global streaming services, maintaining the spirit and identity of the United Kingdom is a challenge.
Today, our public broadcasters receive more drama money from foreign investors than they spend.
The investment is very welcome-in fact, it is absolutely important to their survival.
But we want it not to undermine British creativity or the British brand.
Our public broadcasters have a unique role to play in that context.
And the government wants to empower them to continue to make the same unique and unique “us” stuff, no matter where the money comes from …
… Continue to produce programs that are genuine and not just relevant to the UK viewers. What allows people in every corner of Britain to project themselves and their way of life on the screen.
But we can also share what we are most proud of in other parts of the world.
Make something symbolic, not general.
Therefore, the next white paper will include a proposal to expand the authority of public broadcasters. This requires public broadcasters to produce “UK-specific” content.
If it is set in the UK and created in the UK by a public service broadcaster, it must be clearly in the UK.
At the same time, we want to ensure that UK broadcasters get the right exposure, no matter how the content is consumed.
Public broadcasting has been a part of our national life for almost a century and is uniquely arranged to reflect our values.
In the world of fake news and disinformation, they are a reliable source of content and information.
And they play an important role in bringing the country together during crises and celebrations-whether it’s a national COVID press conference or a royal wedding.
Therefore, it is very important that they are in the center of the television.
Therefore, we will enact the law as soon as possible, making it a legal requirement that major online platforms need to transmit PSB content and make it easy to find.
To support the future sustainability of public broadcasting, Ofcom will also be empowered to support effective negotiations with the platform.
This is one way to ensure that UK broadcasters thrive.
The other is to put them in the right financial position to compete and succeed over the next few decades, no matter what the future of broadcasting.
As you know, I was certainly listening to Alex in front of me. This summer, we began discussions to consider ownership of Channel 4.
The talks ended yesterday and the government’s view is that the change of ownership could be beneficial to Channel 4. And it is beneficial to the country.
To be clear, Channel 4 is one of the country’s major assets.
Created by the conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to open the market. Boost an independent production department. It gives the viewer more choice when the set is turned on.
In the 40 years since then, it has succeeded in its mission and has withstood the incredible turmoil of the last few years, from streaming to COVID.
Currently, channel 4 is in a stable position.
But too many people are sticking to the current situation on Channel 4.
The government is more interested in its long-term future.
And if Channel 4 wants to grow, we believe. And, as Alex embarked, it wants to grow and needs to grow. Then, at some point, you’ll soon need cash.
Without it, Channel 4 wouldn’t have the money to invest in technology and programming and wouldn’t be able to compete with the streaming giants.
So the next obvious question is where does the cash come from?
It can be behind the taxpayer or come from private investment.
And, as a general rule, our strong position is that Stockport and South End grandmas should not undertake commercial TV channel borrowing.
Instead, we can help it unleash its coveted investment.
And you can do so while protecting the part of Channel 4 that none of us want to lose.
Therefore, if you choose to continue selling, ensure that Channel 4 continues to be subject to appropriate public service obligations.
And I imagine they must be included:
… Independent news and ongoing commitment to current affairs…
… To outsource programming from an independent production department…
… And Channel 4 must continue to represent the whole country.
To be clear, the government does not agree with the false dichotomy choice between public service content and privatization. We can have both.
Channel 4 can continue to do its best to fund original, risky content like no other. And we will show you the best of the country on free TV.
I did a great job on the Paralympic broadcast. And we want it to continue its great work three years later, and for the next few years.
And I’m happy that Channel 4 was able to gather the whole country to support Emaradukanu at the US Open Final on Saturday night.
Last year we needed these national moments, and we need more of them that we can see freely.
Channel 4, with protected money transfers and deeper pockets, could bring even more in the future.
Also, avoid repeating Project Kangaroos when Channel 4, ITV and BBC Worldwide are blocked by the competition committee from launching an online platform to lead the market and grow over the years. I am strongly aware of it.
We hampered the opportunity to create a Netflix homemade alternative by sticking to what we know, rather than thinking creatively, assuming we don’t need to change.
Ten years later, the government decided not to miss the opportunity to equip British broadcasts for the next decade.
And if people disagree, the challenges to them are: Tell us how you intend to protect Channel 4 and the broader creative industries in a more equitable and sustainable way.
Standing still is not an option.
In fact, it’s self-harm.
Last but not least, that’s important.
No matter what happens or what decisions are made on Channel 4, this government does not endanger our independent production industry.
As I said at the beginning, British movies and television are booming.
Hundreds of thousands of people and thousands of families depend on the industry for their lives. For their creative realization; for their self-consciousness.
Our economy depends on our creative industries.
Our national identity depends on it.
We will continue to do everything we can to protect it.
That is the job of the government. Think about tomorrow as well as today.
Thank you very much.
John Whittingdale’s Speech to RTS Cambridge Convention 2021
SourceJohn Whittingdale’s Speech to RTS Cambridge Convention 2021