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Sky CEO warns red tape is stifling UK’s media and entertainment industry

Sky is calling for a national IP roadmap, as well as for the government to proactively support production studio infrastructure by streamlining planning processes and rethinking the Valuation Office Agency’s property tax rating for studios

A new report from Sky reveals that the broadcaster’s technology resources are currently deployed one day a week on regulatory requirements.

The report, produced in conjunction with Public First and Oxford Economics, calls on the UK government to “take a more prominent role in the growth and development of the media and entertainment industry”.

It sets out a number of key policy priorities for success in the creative industries:

Innovation: Sky proposes that all new regulation is subject to an Innovation Impact Assessment, requiring government departments to explicitly consider the effect of new rules on companies’ ability to innovate. At present, one day a week of Sky’s technology resources are deployed on regulatory requirements: This time and effort could be better placed elsewhere, said the broadcaster, such as developing new services or optimising existing business practices to boost productivity.

Skills: The government should expand the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy so that it covers freelancers who move flexibly between productions and allow funds to be used for broader retraining and retention.

Incentives: The government should maintain a world-leading AV tax framework by committing to a regular benchmarking exercise assessing UK incentives against competing jurisdictions, as well as broadening R&D tax credits eligibility to include creative endeavours.

Space: The government needs to proactively support production studio infrastructure by streamlining planning processes and rethinking the Valuation Office Agency’s property tax rating for studios, states Sky. 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. Sky suggests central government and local authorities should embrace the economic and employment potential of the screen sector, and streamline the planning processes that can bring this pipeline to fruition.

Connectivity: Sky is calling for a national Internet Protocols (IP) roadmap in anticipation of a wholesale shift to IP distribution, including a coordinated effort to end digital exclusion to allow people to engage with online-only content.

The research also found that the sector could be worth an additional £10 billion to the UK by 2033 and could contribute an additional 40,000 jobs.

Speaking about the findings, Dana Strong, group CEO, Sky said: “We face a unique opportunity for the UK to be a global powerhouse of creative production, scaling up to meet growing demand both at home and overseas.

“If our industry and the UK government work together to invest in skills, innovation, and key infrastructure, we will succeed in creating more prosperity for communities across the country. As a result, the media and entertainment sector could be worth an impressive additional £10 billion to the UK economy by 2033.

“There’s so much more to do, and Sky is determined to be an engine for that growth – powering creativity in the UK and across the world.”