Phil Redmond's company is the largest employer in the independent sector and one of the UK's longest running indie production outfits. It's busily diversifying into education, broadband and enhanced television.
The Mersey Television Company - producer of Brookside and Hollyoaks - is the UK's largest regional independent. In terms of audience share it is the 15th biggest producer in the UK - in a list that includes the BBC and Granada - accounting for 0.79 per cent of all viewer hours in 1999, according to David Graham & Associates' On the Box report.A private limited company with offices in Abbey Road, Liverpool, Mersey Television is one of the UK's original indies set up in 1981, shortly before the launch of Channel 4, by writer/producer Phil Redmond.According to the latest Companies House data its pre-tax profit for the 12 months to the end of September 1999 fell dramatically from£1.4m in 1998 to£186,714 on a turnover of£3.9m, compared with£2.9m in the previous year. This was largely due to a rise in administrative expenses from£1.6m in 1998 to£3.9m. This meant that after paying tax and a£600,000 dividend - mainly to its 99 per cent share-holder Redmond - it made a loss of£470,000, compared with a profit of nearly£500,000 the previous year. Redmond declined to comment on the financial results.The massive increase in spending is believed to be due to investment in online activities. Mersey Television launched the Conker Boy Films division in February 1997 to develop new technology including broadband and enhanced TV.Conker Boy produced Gagging for It, an 8 x 30-minute series trailing eight stand-up comics as they made their way around the north-west circuit.Executive produced by Redmond and produced by Lee Hardman for Granada, it went out on ITV in the Granada region in autumn last year. The outfit also manages and provides the content for websites brookside.com and hollyoaks.com.In October last year, Redmond denied rumours that his company was investigating a flotation following venture capitalist interest in its online growth potential.Mersey Television has invested£500,000 in the International Centre for Digital Content (ICDC), which launched last July in association with the Trustee of Liverpool John Moores University to act as a focus for training, production, research and business growth in the digital arena. The ICDC also received European funding.At the time of the announcement, Redmond said: 'It's important to invest in young people. Investing in education is not a charity but a sound business decision and yesterday only becomes tomorrow if we invest in today.'Mersey Television lists a number of wholly owned subsidiaries including Brookside Productions, Hollyoaks Productions, Campus Manor Productions, The Mersey Television Training Company and The Mersey Music Company. Brookside Productions, producer of the soap opera, increased its output from two to three 30-minute episodes a week in 1991 at the request of C4.Hollyoaks Productions handles the teen drama that has followed in Brookside's footsteps. Four years after its launch in 1995, Hollyoaks was increased to three 30-minute episodes per week at C4's request and is its most popular ongoing drama among 16 to 24 year-olds. Attracting viewing figures of over 5 million a week, Hollyoaks has sold to 14 territories. The Mersey Television subsidiary holds the rights.The company is the UK's largest employer in the independent TV sector, employing 280 permanent and 100-plus freelance staff. Directors are chairman Redmond, managing director Alexis Redmond and solicitor Leon Morgan. Andrew Gossage is general manager while Joanne Bibby is company secretary.MERSEY TELEVISION'S DIRECTORSPhil Redmond, 51As well as being chairman and founder of Mersey Television, Redmond is executive producer of Brookside Productions and Hollyoaks Productions.He is honorary professor of media studies, Liverpool John Moores University.His first job in TV was writing the LWT sitcom Doctor in Charge. He then joined the team of writers on ATV's children's show Kids From 47A and the sitcom The Squirrels before setting up Mersey Television in 1981 to produce his own material. Brookside first aired on Channel 4's launch date - 2 November 1982. Redmond devised And the Beat Goes On, Mersey Television's first non-contemporary drama, which transmitted on C4 in March 1997.He created police drama Waterfront Beat, which was first broadcast in 1991 on BBC 1 and ran for two series. Redmond also devised and released videos Hollyoaks: Off On and Brookside: Double Take! in November 1998 and November 1999 respectively.For the year ending 30 September 1999 he received nearly£600,000 in dividends, up£100,000 on the previous year, according to Companies House.Alexis Redmond, 45Redmond's wife, a chartered accountant, is managing director of Mersey Television and a governor of Liverpool John Moores University.Leon Morgan, 61Morgan is a London-based solicitor.