The contribution of the creative industries to the UK’s long term economic future

2 October 2015

The current BBC Charter Review matters much more than most. It is about something bigger than the BBC – it is about the future of British creativity and story-telling.

Decisions made about the BBC over the coming months will ultimately shape the future of the entire creative industries, which in turn, will impact on the long term economic future of the UK.

As the creative industries continue to be the fastest-growing industry in the UK, the BBC plays a central and critical role in its thriving success. Of the BBC’s £3.7 billion investment of licence-fee income in the UK, £2.2 billion went to the UK’s creative industries with the remainder largely going to digital and high-tech industries on activities which support content creation and content distribution.

The BBC’s investments in the creative industries support over 2,700 suppliers based in the UK. Around 86 per cent of the BBC’s creative suppliers in the UK are small (10-49 employees) or micro-sized (0-9 employees) businesses, with investments spread across the industry in music, performing, visual arts, publishing, IT, film, radio, TV and photography, as well as others. Overall, the BBC creates £8 billion of economic value for the UK; for every £1 spent on the BBC through the licence fee, £2 of value is created through jobs, economic opportunities and expenditure.

But the BBC goes further than simply investing funds in the future of this dynamic industry. It creates the right conditions needed for growth and acts as a creative catalyst. The BBC and the licence fee do this by acting as risk capital for creativity, making markets in which others can thrive (for example the BBC iPlayer helped establish a vibrant catch-up TV sector), funding new talent and skilling the workforce, and by promoting the UK’s brand globally via the BBC World Service,BBC World News and BBC Worldwide (56 per cent of overseas businesses agree that the BBC plays a direct role in influencing their business decisions in favour of the UK). And BBC Worldwide, which is self-funding and takes no money from the licence fee, exists to support the BBC’s public service mission and maximise profits on its behalf, providing more money for the BBC to invest in creating programmes and services and to put back into the wider creative industries.

As the BBC continues to act as an engine of investment in British creativity and culture, it will continue to benefit the creative industries all over the UK, and therefore continue to be part of the wider economic success narrative.

Andrew Scadding, Head of Corporate Affairs, BBC

This article was written for the Reform Annual Journal to accompany the Conservative Party Conference event “Building on success: the contribution of the creative industries to the UK’s long term economic future”.



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