Former BBC One and Channel 4 boss Jay Hunt told the Lords Communications Committee that the iPhone maker had spent millions of pounds commissioning with British production houses, as it prepares for the launch of Apple TV+ in the autumn.
“We haven’t even launched yet and yet we’re here and we have a tiny team and this is an American organisation that has chosen to operate in the UK and to put sizeable commissions into the UK,” Ms Hunt explained.
“I have been on the other side and observed the inevitable brain drain of British talent going to the States and I think it’s exciting that we have a presence here and that we’re investing back in the UK, and that as a meaningful global player goes to content the UK will be a beneficiary of that but I’m sure these conversations will continue.”
Ms Hunt, the force behind Channel 4 securing the Great British Bake Off from the BBC, joined Apple in 2017 as creative director for Europe and worldwide video.
The 52-year-old was also instrumental in bringing the likes of Gogglebox, First Dates, Humans and The Island With Bear Grylls to Channel 4 and was behind deals to bring US dramas The Handmaid’s Tale and Homeland to the UK.
“I am commissioning a considerable amount of content from the UK creative community and I think it’s exciting to have an organisation of Apple’s size coming into the UK and giving the sector here that level of scrutiny and support, and long before we’ve even launched our original commissioning strategy, millions of pounds have been spent commissioning with British production houses,” she said.
Apple announced plans for its own TV and movie streaming subscription service in March, with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Momoa and Oprah Winfrey signed up on projects.
Speaking about the possibility of working on co-productions, Ms Hunt added: “We are not adverse to co-productions at all, I’ve spent the past 18 months talking to producers and to broadcasters about co-production and the one thing I would say is I think sometimes it can be very successful, sometimes it can be less successful, but critically I think it’s not the only way in which we can make a contribution to the UK creative economy.
“A very striking example in that instance is two of my very first commissions out of the UK have been to BBC Studios, and I know Lord Hall’s talked to the Committee about the value of the BBC Studios as the commercial arm of the BBC, and that is a literal injection of cash into the BBC and continuing to fuel that public service economy, so I think there are lots of different ways of cutting this and we can make an array of contributions.”