London has always been the heart of the UK’s TV and media land. As a freelancer, if you weren’t willing to relocate to the big smoke maintaining a regular work flow further a field was luxury. With more production houses eloping north and the big promise of Salford’s Media City, the wheels are already in motion, but how much will things really change?
We have become jaded and cynical about token corporate moves to provide cultural balance, but sometimes they make such a fundamental difference that we forget what the earlier alternative was.
Until 1982, almost all television production was made in-house by the broadcasters of just three channels. The government of the time wanted to break what it saw as a left-wing union-dominated cultural monopoly and imposed a minimum quota of 25% of productions to come from external commissions, and founded a free market-based fourth channel which would only buy-in productions from the outside suppliers which didn’t even exist yet. This created the independent production sector and as a by-product the freelance production sector to service it. That was a token gesture which changed our television system completely.