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FURLONG OF THE EXHIBITION
SEASON by Peter Savage
W ell, here we
approaching the final furlong of
exhibition season –
having back-to-backed BVE and
CABSAT, and now planning NAB –
and, yes, my liver feels as though it
is approaching the final fence at the
Grand National. I suspect my wife
feels entitled to file for divorce on
the grounds of me seemingly having
disappeared like Lord Lucan, but it is
all in the name of work – honest. To
prove it, here is what I have learned
so far from the show circuit and what
I am looking forward to in Vegas.
already kicked in. Demand was strong and pre-NAB confidence was high. This
year has a very different feel to it.
In the last few weeks, many more companies in the TV or film business have
been forced to seek some form of protection from creditors. The general feel is
that, despite all the talk about tax incentives bringing new business flooding back,
the industry is on its knees and needs a significant injection of work in the next
couple of months to help it get back on its feet if it is to get anywhere near the
halcyon days of last year.
Why is this? Well, for one, the Government has tried to entice TV productions
back into the UK through some very acute tax incentive schemes based around
film and TV investment.
Looking at my favourite bellwether of the industry – ITV – I see that its results
are great, its share price has almost doubled in the last year, its revenues are
up in every strand of its business and, in the first quarter of 2013, its advertising
revenues were up 18 per cent. So how come no-one else is having this feel good
factor? Just like Beaujolais Nouveau?
In my view, the shows are making
the case for 4K – it has arrived, a
bit like Beaujolais nouveau. When
the French launched the Beaujolais
nouveau craze in the late 1980s,
we all thought “What is all the fuss
about? Isn’t it just another red wine
hype?” yet the event continues year
after year. And so it is with 4K –
although it is here to stay, it is a case
of “what’s the point at the moment?”
It has come too soon, and is too
driven by consumer manufacturers
with no real demand for the product.
That is a harsh verdict on such a
great format (which is more than can
be said about the red wine).
… and like an English summer
With NAB looming, will it be another
landmark year? I have not seen a
whole new influx of cameras at the
other shows so, in technological
terms, it could be rather a damp
squib. However, shows also define
the heartbeat of the industry and this
is what makes me most concerned
at the moment: last year, in February
and March, the summer season had
For once I would say that it doesn’t make any sense, unless it was because
broadcast was fortunate to have the Jubilee and Olympics last year, that we
completely misread the crystal ball. Perhaps we are now suffering from what all
of other industries in the UK have had to cope with for the last two years: slow
growth in a harshly competitive economy.
There is, however, another sting in the tail. As last year was so good many
companies continued to spend well into the late summer, expecting 2013 to be
as good as 2012. Then the Olympics happened and took out a large chunk of
anticipated winter business. In that situation – with higher bills and repayments,
and kit that is not working – the economic model can suddenly turn and that is
when companies fall into trouble.
Waving the flag
In summary, as we prepare to head stateside for NAB, I’d like nothing more than
to see plenty of good news stories around deals, investments and partnerships
that would indicate a return to confidence, as well as companies that have found
innovative ways of making money in a harsh economy.
Looking ahead, the suggestion that doing business in Britain is better than doing
business anywhere else in the world has an element of truth to it, as we have a
pool of talent that is second to none. This might sound unnervingly jingoistic but,
in a country that supposedly makes very little but sells great services, for what
else can we wave our flag? Positive answers on a postcard, please, to Peter
Savage on firstname.lastname@example.org
To comment on this article, do contact me at email@example.com
and/or write to the TV Bay editor. To read other articles in this series,
32 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE