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Defining the Television industry

The UK industry is dominated by the major broadcasters, plus a much larger number of less well-known broadcasters and production companies.

There are nine so-called terrestrial broadcasters, whose output is broadcast through land-based transmitters. They include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, S4C, SMG and UTV. These companies are also called Public Service Broadcasters, with a range of obligations set out in their licences, and in the case of the BBC in its Charter.

There are also around 300 cable and satellite broadcasters. This sub-sector is dominated by major international players, including BSkyB, Virgin Media, Discovery, Disney and Viacom, but there are also a number of  niche broadcasters catering to an amazingly wide variety of audiences and interests.

Catering to local interests are the growing number of community TV companies which share the analogue spectrum of 18 Restricted Service Licences.

By far the largest part of the industry is comprised of around 850 independent production companies (often referred to as the ‘indies'). They make many of the best-known programmes on television - programmes like the X Factor, Big Brother and Life on Mars. The biggest companies (the so-called super-indies) have turnovers of between £100-200m per year and employ thousands of people in the course of a year. But the typical independent production company is much smaller than this.

In 2008, GVA (Gross Value Added) for radio and TV combined totalled £3.2 billion which equates to 0.3% of UK GVA. This follows a growth of 11% since 2004 and represents an average year on year growth of 8% since 1997.

Television is going through a period of rapid and profound change, in the face of media convergence and globalisation. Among the drivers of change and challenge are:

  • Faster than predicted growth of broadband in the home in the UK and the massive success of mobile media;
  • Globalisation of the TV and video market;
  • Traditional TV business models challenged by audience fragmentation and move of advertising to the Internet;
  • Content is king': audiences seek programmes and content rather than channels and schedules;
  • Shape of TV sector in flux: with mergers and acquisitions bringing new big players into UK market; growth of super-indies and volatility of SME sector.

This combination of factors is transforming the skills needs of the 50,150 strong workforce and Creative Skillset's TV Skills Strategy and Action plan has been created to address these changes.

Labour Market Intelligence Digest
Creative Skillset's industry endorsed research programme provides authoritative Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) for the creative media industries throughout the UK. Download the LMI digest below:

Adobe Acrobat DocumentTV Labour Market Intelligence Digest (2011)
This LMI informs how we allocate our funding and underpins the development of skills solutions as well as our strategies and Sector Profiles. The latest data available are summarised and published in a series of Sector LMI Digests

For more information on our research work, please visit Creative Skillset's Research pages.

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