Media Industry Set For Changes In 2011

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For companies and individuals in the media industry, the year 2011 looks like it will be as conflicted and confused as its predecessor. On the one hand, the UK government’s policy interventions are forcing organisations to reassess how they do business. On the other, changes in technology continue to impact on how companies and customers relate.

Government policy will have an impact at both an industry-specific and an economy-wide level. An example of the former is the BBC’s new licence fee settlement, which means that the corporation’s funding will be cut by around 16% in real terms over the next six years. While the priority is to achieve efficiencies on the admin side, the reality is that some savings will have to be made in production. This points to more repeats, longer runs of shows and more creative financing arrangements – such as co-productions.

At the same time, it seems likely that the BBC will want to spend more on the kind of peak time shows that cut through the clutter of competition. The implication of this is that there will be a squeeze on mid-range shows, which are neither schedule events nor high-volume returnables. In this mid-range space, expect a rise in the use of personalities and experts to try and add authenticity and credibility to series.

The BBC cuts will be offset to some extent by changes at Channel 4 and BSkyB. The former has a lot of cash to spend following the axing of Big Brother and the recent recovery in the ad market. BSkyB, meanwhile, has started increasing its investment in drama, factual and comedy as it attempts to lock in subscribers and prove to decision-makers that it is fully-committed to the domestic production sector. Expect this to continue for some time, as BSkyB attempts to convince skeptics that it is a force for good in the media.