Digital Single Market may have 'disastrous' cultural consequences

Digital Single Market may have 'disastrous' cultural consequences

The "cultural consequences of the Digital Single Market in Europe would be disastrous", according to Chris Auty [pictured], head of the producing department of the National Film & Television School. "It would hand it to the global players and take the creative industries down with it."

He was speaking at the FutureBook Conference last Friday (2nd December) at a session entitled "Waving, not drowning – Digital lessons from across the media", at which leaders from the worlds of dance, film and TV, and children’s books talked about how they use digital to widen their audiences. The session was hosted by the Creative Industries Federation, and chaired by its chief executive John Kampfner.

"Now that we are not at the top table in Europe – following the Brexit decision – it will be harder for us to argue our case," Auty maintained. "In the world of film and TV, a digital single market will kill off many small players. They won’t be able to coordinate simultaneous releases because distribution will be owned by the major players."

On the issue of diversity, Emma Southworth, senior producer of the Royal Ballet’s studio programme said that 20% of the Royal Ballet School was now black, Asian and minority ethnic, but that change had been "too slow". 

"We have now taken off names from applications to remove unconscious bias," she said. "In terms of widening our audience and reach, the Royal Opera House live programme means that our productions are being seen in far more places now."

Kampfner noted that orchestras were now holding "colour blind auditions", with good results. But Book Trust c.e.o Diana Gerald noted there was still a problem with "children not recognising themselves in books". She widened this out to mean their environment too. "I get fed up with children’s books where they always have a garden. A lot of children don’t have gardens," she said.

Martin Haines, chief operating officer for TV production company Kudos, whose hits include ITV's "Broadchurch", said that it tried hard to "populate its creative teams with diverse voices", but that it could be hard for newcomers to "learn the lingua franca". More generally he noted that, largely thanks to subscription services like Netflix and Amazon "there has never been a better time to be in scripted television". 

"The effect of digital has not been to cannibalise our market," he said. "It does mean that people are watching in different ways – either on catch-up, or binge watching – but they are watching."