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Almost three-quarters of small indies say they are at risk of closure if the current commissioning slowdown continues for another year, according to an Indielab survey.

Of the 67 indies that responded, 72% said they risked closing, while 37% said that without change, they could be forced to close within six months.

Nevertheless, 34% were forecasting some growth in the next year, particularly from outside traditional linear commissions - 78% had explored new revenue streams, chiefly, digital-first content (24%) and branded/ad-funded programming (17%).

More than a third – 36% - said their future growth lies beyond traditional TV – in digital-first content, podcasting, and branded/ad-funded content.

Describing 2023 as “one of the toughest years on record”, Indielab chief executive Victoria Powell said the commissioning slowdown was being felt across the indie and freelance community.

“No-one should be laissez-faire about it,” she said. 

“Indies are the grassroots of the industry. The whole ecosystem relies on home-grown, small indies to create, generate and power the innovation, diversity and talent development that has built and sustained our globally successful sector. 

If we allow our small indie ecosystem to go into unmanaged decline and fail, the UK sector will be worse off in years to come: less diverse, less innovative, less agile, and potentially and importantly, less UK-owned.”

In terms of potential solutions, 91% supported the idea of the PSBs having a ‘small indie quota’, with 88% saying this should be applied to streamers too.

Respondents unanimously agreed that the government should introduce a screen industries research and development tax credit; high-end TV and film tax credits should be extended to production costing less than £1m per hour; and that there should be guidelines to protect small indie IP creators in co-productions with larger indies.

Meanwhile, 31% said the government could do more to financially support indies via grants, training costs, loans and loan deferrals.

Indielab intends to repeat the survey next year.

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