Sky calls on UK government to tackle red tape

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UK-based broadcaster Sky has called on the British government to tackle regulatory red tape that threatens to stifle the creative sector ahead of government plans to launch a review of TV trends.

In a report ahead of the annual Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge on Wednesday, the company warned that “significant amounts” of its resources were being used to deal with regulatory requirements. One day a week of Sky’s technology resources are deployed on regulatory requirements at “significant cost” to the business, the company said.

Sky has called for a new “innovation impact assessment” requiring government departments to explicitly consider the effect of new rules on companies’ ability to innovate.

In the report, the Comcast-owned broadcaster said that the UK’s media and entertainment industry ability to innovate risks “being challenged by the significant amount of resources that businesses are asked to deploy on regulatory requirements — time and effort could be better placed elsewhere”.

Sky boss Dana Strong highlighted the growth potential of the media and entertainment sector owing to international demand for British content, forecasting that it could boost the UK’s GDP by £10bn by 2033. The broadcaster estimates demand will grow 50 per cent given a disproportionate share of the international market commanded by British TV companies.

Sky, which started productions at new studios in Elstree in 2022, also said that the government needs to support studio infrastructure by streamlining planning processes and rethinking the Valuation Office Agency’s property tax ratings for studios. 

It said: “There are currently development proposals for 44 new studio spaces across the country, but progress is slow with ongoing funding and planning obstacles to overcome.”

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer will also address the TV conference, expanding on her plans to grow the creative industries by £50bn and add one million additional jobs in the sector by 2030.

But Frazer will promise to protect those who depend on free to air services as more TV content moves online, saying that they will not be “left behind” by the continued rise of streaming services, according to details of her speech shared in advance.

A new project studying future TV trends will start to help long-term policy decisions on whether to extend the current commitment to keep Freeview channels on air until at least 2034. 

“This government wants to encourage the sector to keep embracing innovation and technological development. But we’re not going to pull the rug from under the devoted audiences of Freeview channels, “ Frazer is expected to say. “We want terrestrial television to remain accessible for the foreseeable future.”

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