Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: media and creative industries

Updated 8 May 2015

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/making-it-easier-for-the-media-and-creative-industries-to-grow-while-protecting-the-interests-of-citizens. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


Our creative industries are a real success story. They are worth more than £36 billion a year; they generate £70,000 every minute for the UK economy; and they employ 1.5 million people in the UK. According to industry figures, the creative industries account for around £1 in every £10 of the UK’s exports. With the right support, they have the potential to bring even more benefits to our culture and economy.

We support these industries through financial incentives, promotion at home and abroad, and reducing unnecessary regulations.

We are very proud of the UK’s media industry: it is a powerful symbol of an open and free society, as well as an important part of the economy. At the same time, we want to make sure that appropriate regulations are in place so that everyone’s rights are protected, and so that we have a plurality (or mix) of owners in the media industry.


We are helping the media and creative industries, while protecting the interests of citizens, by:

  • continuing to support content producers in the British creative industries, offering tax breaks for filmmakers, television producers, animators and video game producers
  • promoting British creative industries domestically and internationally
  • funding the British Film Institute (BFI), the UK’s lead agency for film, to support film production, distribution, education, audience development and market research
  • supporting the growth of digital radio services and infrastructure leading to a decision on a radio switchover
  • setting up the Creative Industries Council , to provide regular dialogue between government and industry
  • changing rules to make it easier for music, plays and other entertainment to take place
  • setting policy for public broadcasting - reviewing the BBC’s Royal Charter, setting the television licence fee, and licensing the public service broadcasters
  • creating a local TV framework so that local TV services can be set up across the UK
  • making sure Ofcom has the funding and powers to regulate the communications and broadcasting industries, and making sure it does its job well
  • making sure there is a new and effective independent system of self-regulation for the press
  • making sure that there is a plurality (or mix) of media owners
  • working with industry to address online copyright infringement
  • working with industry, consumer groups, regulators and other interested parties to protect children online


The Digital Economy Act 2010 was introduced to provide a regulatory framework which could support emerging and future digital media services in the UK.

The Leveson Inquiry was set up in July 2011 to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the press, following the exposure of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Lord Leveson reported in November 2012. [link to report]

In May 2011 Professor Ian Hargreaves published a ‘Digital opportunity: a review of intellectual property and growth. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO), an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, is implementing the review’s recommendations.


The Communications Act 2003 is the primary means by which the digital industries in the UK are regulated. It set up Ofcom’s full powers.

The Digital Economy Act 2010 regulates digital media in the UK and covers local television provision, video game ratings, the powers of regulator Ofcom, how internet domain names are registered in the UK, and measures to protect intellectual copyright from illegal file sharing.

The Live Music Act 2012 amends the 2003 Licencing Act so that licences for many types of live performances are no longer required.

The Enterprise Act 2002 gives the government the power to intervene and make decisions in cases of media mergers to protect the public interest and plurality of the media.

Appendix 1: promoting British creative industries at home and abroad

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

British creative industries are world-leading, and we take every opportunity to promote them. This includes:

  • keeping British firms informed about tenders for business opportunities abroad
  • making sure our creative industries are represented in the GREAT campaign, the UK’s international marketing programme
  • co-funding the British Film Commission, which is a public-private partnership that promotes the UK as a great place to make films
  • organising trips where UK creative companies can bid to show UK creativity abroad and help increase trade
  • helping creative industries break into overseas markets through the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), which includes help with trade fairs, market intelligence and overseas trip support

Appendix 2: public service broadcasting

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The UK has 5 public service television broadcasters. These broadcasters receive benefits like the licence fee (in the case of the BBC), guaranteed access to the spectrum (or section of the airwaves) they need for broadcasting, and prominence on TV electronic programme guides. In return they commit to providing services that give a benefit to the public, like news, local programming or cultural content.

The public service television broadcasters are:

  • the BBC, a public corporation, funded mainly by the television licence fee
  • Channel 4, a public corporation self-funded by advertising
  • S4C, a public corporation broadcasting in Wales and funded by a combination of BBC funding, government grant and advertising
  • Channels 3 and 5, whose licences are held by commercial television companies funded by advertising (currently for Channel 3, ITV in England and Wales, STV in Scotland and UTV in Northern Ireland)

The BBC’s Royal Charter sets up their independence and defines what it does. We review the charter every 10 years. The current charter runs out at the end of 2016, and we will carry out the next review before that.

The BBC Trust regulates the BBC on behalf of the licence-fee payers. The chair of the Trust is appointed by the government.

The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is responsible for licensing, regulating and monitoring other broadcasters.

Television licences

The current BBC Royal Charter says that the BBC should be funded by the fees paid for TV licences. If you watch or record TV programmes as they’re broadcast you will need a TV licence.

Appendix 3: representing the public in media mergers

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We are responsible for media ownership rules and representing the public interest in media industry mergers and media ownership.

Because the media industry has a significant impact on public life and politics, there are special rules that affect who may buy large businesses in this sector.

The Enterprise Act 2002 gives the Culture Secretary a duty to review some proposed mergers in the media industry. This is to make sure that one owner does not control a disproportionately large share of the media industry.

Our guidance explains when intervention by the Culture Secretary is possible, and the process for considering mergers on public interest grounds.

Appendix 4: making sure there is a new and effective independent system of self-regulation for the press

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Following Lord Justice Leveson’s Inquiry and report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press, we are working hard to ensure a new and effective independent system of press self-regulation.

We recognise the importance of a free and vigorous press as part of the democratic process and whatever steps are taken, it is fundamental that we maintain this free press.

But we are also keen to ensure that the outcome is that press regulation is effective, ensuring the failures of the past are not repeated.

The challenge now falls to the press to come up with a model that addresses the issues outlined by Lord Justice Leveson, and cross-party talks are ongoing to help find the solution we all want.

Appendix 5: continuing to support content producers in the British creative industries, offering tax breaks for filmmakers, television producers, animators and video game producers

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Tax breaks for British films were introduced in 2007, and since then we have provided more than £160 million to the film industry in tax relief every year.

In 2012, we announced that high-end television productions, animation and video games producers would receive similar tax breaks from April 2013, to encourage growth in these industries.

Producers of films that qualify as British can claim the following tax breaks:

  • for films costing £20 million or less, up to 25% of costs
  • for films over £20 million, up to 20% of costs

From April 2013, high-end television, animation and video games tax reliefs will be introduced at a rate of 25%.

More information and how to apply is available from HMRC

Films only receive tax breaks if they qualify as ‘culturally British’. The British Film Institute makes recommendations about which films qualify to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who then approve the films for tax breaks.

You can find more information on the Cultural Test on the British Film Institute website.

Details of the tax breaks available for high-end television, animation and video games industries will be available when they are introduced.

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The Digital Economy Act 2010 contains measures that are designed to protect the rights of copyright owners online.

These measures include working with Ofcom to set up:

  • the Initial Obligations Code for rights holders and ISPs (internet service providers) on how to deal with internet piracy
  • the code for the functioning of the mass notification system, which will require certain internet ISPs to participate and will clarify the voluntary role copyright owners will play

The mass notification system will involve sending letters to broadband account holders whose internet connections are shown to be illegally sharing or downloading content. The letters will ask them to stop and point out alternative sources of legal content.

We are also working with industry partners to develop options for addressing online copyright infringement as part of the Communications Review, including through search engines, payment companies and online advertisers.

Appendix 7: creating a local TV framework so that local TV services can be set up across the UK

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

We want to create a thriving industry of local television services, which will create jobs and help local communities choose TV content that is relevant to them.

We are giving licensed local TV services access to affordable spectrum (the section of the airwaves required to transmit their signals) and a prominent position on TV electronic programme guides. In return for these benefits, local TV services will be required to provide local content which meets the needs of local people and is relevant to their daily lives.

The BBC is contributing up to £40 million toward creating independent local television: up to £25 million towards capital costs of building the local TV infrastructure and up to £5 million per year over three years to acquire local content.

We have passed laws that give Ofcom the power to award local TV licences, and they are currently awarding them to companies across the UK.

In total, Ofcom will award local TV licences to 19 locations across the UK, with the first of these expected to begin transmission before the end of 2013.

The multiplex operator (responsible for building and maintaining the technical infrastructure needed to broadcast local TV services) licence was awarded by Ofcom in January 2013. This is a significant milestone in moving the launch of each local TV channel forward.

As part of its application, the multiplex operator has identified a further 28 areas in the UK with suitable technical conditions for local TV. Ofcom will invite potential applicants to register their interest for these locations in the coming months.

You can find out more about the process on Ofcom’s website.

Bills and legislation

We have created 5 pieces of legislation to set up local TV. These are:

Appendix 8: making sure digital radio meets the needs of consumers and industry

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The UK leads the world in the take-up and consumption of digital radio, with 35.6% of all radio listening being to digital platforms and 45.2% of households having a digital radio. UK manufacturers are leading innovators and exporters of digital radios around the world. In 2010 we created an action plan to help us decide whether to implement a radio switchover, which included:

  • assessing of the impact of the switchover

  • setting up a certification mark scheme for digital radios, to help people know whether radios meet the standards we set for them

  • a marketing and communications plan

  • deciding whether we need to set up a help scheme and how to implement it.

The action plan was completed in Autumn 2013. On 16 December 2013 the Government announced that whilst digital listening has been growing steadily now is not the time to commit to a switchover. A package of measures to support digital radio was announced, including improvements to its coverage.

Appendix 9: changing entertainment licensing to make it easier to organise public performances

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

Informal entertainment, like amateur dramatics or playing in a pub band, is an important part of the creative economy and can provide the first step into professional work for artists and musicians.

We are working to remove unnecessary regulations that affect the way that entertainment is licensed, to make it easier to organise live events, such as music and plays.

This will both help to create more opportunities to experience arts and culture, and set free artists and musicians to make additional contributions to the economy.

The Live Music Act 2012 came into effect in October 2012 and conditionally deregulated live music in certain venues and circumstances.

The Licensing Act 2003 (Descriptions of Entertainment) (Amendment) Order 2013 came into effect in June 2013 and partially deregulated plays, dance and indoor sporting events.

The Legislative Reform (Entertainment Licensing Order) 2014 has been laid before Parliament.

A measure on community film exhibition is a clause in the Deregulation Bill

You can find out more in our detailed guide to entertainment licensing.

Read more about our plans to help the creative sectors and community organisations