Radio commissions

The commissioning process for BBC radio networks can at times seem daunting. To shed some light, and to offer advice on getting ideas commissioned, Simon Smith and guests discuss how best to prepare for these rounds, what commissioning editors are looking for and how to work cooperatively with commissioners.

Most new commissions are made during commissioning rounds, which happen at regular points of each year. Radio 4, for example, has one commissioning round in Autumn and another in Spring. At the beginning of each round, commissioners outline what they are and are not looking for from producers in terms of the type and tone of the programme and the slot it will fit into in the schedule. Producers submit a 200 word 'pre-offer' for each idea, which a commissioning editor will either reject or shortlist. Shortlisted ideas are developed by their producers and a commissioning editor into a full offer. These are then whittled down further for a meeting between the commissioning editor and controller to decide which to commission.

"Bad ideas do not get commissioned so focus on your good ones."– Nicky Birch

Talking about how best to prepare for these rounds, what commissioning editors are looking for in a pre-offer and how to work cooperatively with commissioners, Simon is joined by Caroline Raphael, James Cook, Nicky Birch and Phil Tinline.

Caroline is a commissioning editor at Radio 4, Nicky is head of radio development at Somethin' Else and Phil and James are executive producers in the BBC Audio & Music documentaries unit.