BBC Trust publishes third review of the Window of Creative Competition

Date: 06.03.2013     Last updated: 23.09.2014 at 09.53
Category: Commissioning

The BBC is commissioning highly-appreciated new television programmes on a 'best idea wins' basis, a review by the BBC Trust has found.

The Trust has today published the conclusions of its third biennial review into the arrangements for the Window of Creative Competition (WoCC) for television.

The WoCC exists to encourage the BBC to commission the best programme ideas for its audiences regardless of source, and accounts for around 25 per cent of all BBC network television hours.

Both the BBC's in-house teams and independent producers can compete for those hours on equal terms; this is in addition to the 50 per cent in-house guarantee and 25 per cent set aside solely for indies.

The Trust examined the BBC's operation of the WoCC and found it was working well. However the Trust is also asking the BBC to make some minor improvements to how the WoCC operates in practice.

BBC Trustee Anthony Fry, Chairman of the Trust Finance Committee, which oversaw the review, said:

"We have found that after six years of the WoCC, the principle of choosing the best ideas regardless of source is firmly embedded in the BBC's commissioning culture. This is good news and can only have a positive impact on the Corporation's ability to deliver high quality television for licence fee payers.

"However, we have identified some areas for further improvement. We particularly want to see more work going into ensuring that independent producers and in-house teams are aware of all commissioning opportunities, and that they have confidence in an open and fair process at the BBC."

The review also found that:

  • The BBC commissioned a total of 43 per cent of all its network television hours from the independent sector in 2010/11 and 46 per cent in 2011/12 (this includes the 25 per cent indie guarantee)
  • The BBC also met its requirement to produce 50 per cent of network television hours in-house, with 57 per cent in 2010/11 and 54 per cent in 2011/12.
  • The independent sector secured 72 per cent and 83 per cent of the network television hours available through the WoCC in 2010/11 and 2011/12 respectively, in particular winning a large proportion of hours in drama, entertainment and children's.
  • Relatively few hours continue to be allocated in sport under the WoCC, owing to the rights-based nature of its content. Despite these inherent limitations, the Trust is asking the BBC to continue with efforts to improve commissioning in this area, and figures for sport will in future be published alongside those for other genres.
  • The commissioning process under the WoCC is operating on an open and transparent basis, with commissions being allocated to a variety of types of producers, from all areas of the UK. However more should be done to improve confidence in the process for those producers who are based further away from BBC commissioners.

In line with those before it, the review did not set out to look at issues such as the existence of the WoCC, the proportion of hours within it, or the proportion of television hours currently allocated to BBC in-house producers and the independent sector as a whole and the WoCC.

The Trust has asked BBC management to report back in six months on progress made against the recommendations in the review.

The WoCC review report can be read in full on the Trust's website.


Notes to editors

  1. The WoCC has existed since 2007 and is the part of BBC network television commissioning for which in-house and independent producers can compete on equal terms. Of the total network television hours available, 25 per cent is set aside for the independent sector under the statutory independent television production quota set by Ofcom (the indie guarantee), and 50 per cent is reserved for BBC in-house production (the in-house guarantee). The WoCC accounts for the remaining proportion of network television hours.
  2. The requirements for the WoCC, the indie guarantee and the in-house guarantee form part of the BBC's Framework Agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which sits alongside the BBC's Royal Charter. The Trust believes that the most appropriate opportunity to consider matters such as the existence of the WoCC, and the proportions of hours allocated to in-house and independent producers, will be at the time of Charter review.
  3. Under the BBC Agreement, the Trust is required to review the WoCC at least every two years. It was previously reviewed in 2008 and 2010.