CMA investigation into UK TV drama cartel expanded

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CMA investigation into UK TV drama cartel expanded

Unique: A competition investigation that is threatening Britain’s famous TV drama industry will continue until at least the end of the year.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has extended its investigation into production company cartel behavior by six months and will implement “further investigative steps and evaluate the evidence” between now and October, according to an update posted by the authority. . We understand that no presumption is being made at this stage that there has been a breach of competition law, although the CMA says it has “reasonable grounds to suspect one or more breaches.”

No further details have been revealed about “investigative steps”, but Deadline has been told that the CMA has collected a massive amount of evidence and is currently investigating, while it may still seek more information. Is. For the most part, those being investigated were unaware of the details until the CMA posted it. We are told that the authority has no time limit for these cases and the time limits vary.

The investigation was launched last October into BBC Studios, ITV Studios, Hertswood Films, Hat Trick Productions, Red Planet Pictures, Sister and Tiger Aspect, which has produced some of the biggest British hits of the last decade. Sherlock, Dracula, Derry Girls, Death in Paradise, chernobyl And it’s gonna hurt, The investigation, filed under ‘Civil Cartel’, is investigating whether production companies colluded by informally fixing the wage rates of freelancers. Under UK competition law, this behavior is prohibited and rates are required to be either freely negotiated or fixed through formal collective bargaining processes. Along with the investigation, there is also another decline in game production.

A report by Deadline in January found that those being investigated were handing over consignments of WhatsApp messages and emails to lawyers to prove innocence, while sources estimated they were racking up collective legal bills in the millions of pounds. Was doing.

Many said they were afraid to discuss freelancer rates publicly because of the ongoing investigation. According to one indie boss, a feeling of “tension” and “nervousness” has persisted over the long term of the expansion.

Another source with knowledge of the investigation said the situation has become so tense that people like line producers “are being reprimanded for asking how much indies pay certain grades.”

John McVey, who runs UK producer trade body Pact, urged the CMA to be “cognizant” of the pressure on its members’ coffers amid a difficult market.

“It involves a lot of work and a lot of expense for the companies that are part of the investigation,” he said. “These are not large corporations, these are small businesses and it would be worrying if this expansion led to additional and increased costs. I feel for these companies.

The CMA declined to comment. At the time of Deadline’s January report, all of the indies being investigated declined to comment.

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