Monday, October 4 2010, 13:59 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,
Overseas demand for British TV shows helped international export sales increase 9% year-on-year in 2009 to smash the £1 billion mark, new research has revealed.
According to the annual UK TV Exports Survey published by independent producers' trade body Pact, foreign sales of UK programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, Come Dine With Me and MasterChef earned a record £1.34bn for the UK economy last year.
Pact's research also indicated that exports to the key US market rose 3% year-on-year to £485m in 2009, while the overall North American market was worth £546m when sales of videos, DVDs, formats and licensing were all taken into account.
Sales to Australia and New Zealand saw the biggest proportionate growth for the second year running, up 32% year-on-year to £170m.
The report also indicated that sales of finished programmes, the UK's largest source of TV income, rose 10% year-on-year to £549m, accounting for 43% of the total revenue.
Format sales - when an overseas TV company acquires the programme rights and then makes the show itself - increased 25% year-on-year to £119m. Revenue from UK producers making versions of British shows for foreign broadcasters grew 124% to £41m.
Last year, North American sales represented 41% of total export revenue, while Europe contributed 29% and the Rest of the World 30%.
Chris Bonney, managing director of Outright Distribution and a Pact council member, said: "2009 was one of the toughest years for the media industry, so to see an increase in exports is testament to the popularity of British shows all around the world.
"For independent producers, these revenues are increasingly vital as the domestic market gets squeezed by reductions in the broadcasters' production budgets, and have contributed to the sector investing over £200m into new programmes each year."
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) chief executive Sir Andrew Cahn added: "The UK has an unrivalled reputation on the global stage for producing high quality, creative and groundbreaking TV programming.
"From Manila to Helsinki to Buenos Aires, TV formats such as Britain's Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing, Midsomer Murders and Spooks continue to captivate and inspire new audiences - demonstrating the global reach and appeal of the UK TV industry."
Despite the positive growth, the report also warns of issues facing the industry, particularly in regards to digital rights failing to counterbalance the decline in video and DVD sales.
UK independent producers earned only £11m from digital rights last year, while DVD and video sales fell from £204m to £185m.
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