TV production companies in Wales today welcomed the report from the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee on Broadcasting in Wales, which contained several concrete recommendations for the benefit of the sector.

In particular, the Committee questioned whether Ofcom was “adequately regulating” to prevent the practice of ‘brass-plating’, where a company from outside Wales is given a commission and then establishes a small base which may only last as long as the commission itself, therefore negating the positive benefits of such a commission for the Welsh creative sector, in terms of growth in both the economy and the skills base.

The Committee recommends that, “Ofcom examine whether this criterion alone should be sufficient to qualify a production as being based in Wales. We call on the Government to amend the Draft Media Bill to address this problem”.

The report also highlights a concern about PSBs, that “the introduction of in-house commissioning at Channel 4 could harm independent production companies in Wales”, and “a lack of network-level commissioning power at BBC Cymru Wales is leading to commissions being given to companies outside Wales”.

In the Conclusions and Recommendations section, the Committee adds: “In their response to our Report, BBC Cymru Wales must write to us to explain why their approach to commissioning in Wales appears to differ from that adopted by the BBC in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Dyfrig Davies (pictured), Chair of Teledwyr Annibynnol Cymru (TAC), the trade body for TV producers in Wales, said: “We are really pleased at the level of interest the Committee has shown in ‘brass-plating’ and it has brought a long-running problem to the fore. We greatly welcome the proposed insertion into the Media Bill of requirements on Ofcom to more strictly regulate this, in order to ensure that the spirit of the out-of-London quotas – that production sectors around the UK can grow – is followed. We are having discussions with Ofcom, the Government and the BBC on this matter and hope to make progress.

“We also welcome the recommendations on Channel 4 needing to continue to support the independent production sector, as well as encouraging the streaming platforms to commission more from Wales,” he continued. “We also concur with the recommendations regarding the apprenticeship levy, which is not achieving its purpose in our sector due to the nature of employment patterns in the creative industries.”

You can read the full report, published today, here. 

Michael Burns

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