Alternative funding

TV producers face shrinking budgets but at the same time are being asked to increase the ambition of their programmes. For many in the broadcast industry, alternative sources of funding - whether from advertisers, product placement or co-production deals - are seen as a solution to this dilemma.

In ad-funded deals or Advertiser Funded Programming (AFP) advertisers contribute to the programme’s production costs. AFP can provide access to actors, comedians or hugely famous people whose fees would normally be beyond the reach of the programme makers. The funds that AFP bring to productions are not ordinarily used as top-ups that enable a programme to be made, but as funds that can help realise innovations and create additional value for partners and audience alike.

"With co-productions we often find ourselves acting as servant to many masters." – Miranda Bertram

Recent changes in UK legislation to the rules behind product placement, where an advertiser pays for their brand to be associated with a programme, have also opened up doors to further funding.

In the public service broadcast sector, where such commercial tools cannot be used, the BBC and indies making BBC programmes can seek out co-productions with other international broadcasters or investors for distribution rights. Large-scale programmes like Wonders of the Solar System and the BBC Natural History Unit’s Frozen Planet were made with co-production money.

Simon Smith and his three guests present a clear picture of alternative funding, describing how funds can be sourced, what it means for the way programmes are made and who maintains editorial control.

Joining Simon is Stuart Cabb, managing director of Plum Pictures, who was responsible for programmes like James May’s Man Lab and Wayne Rooney’s Street Striker. Completing the line-up are Claire Heys, director of brand partnership and licensing for Endemol UK and Miranda Bertram, a commercial manager for the BBC.