Find out more about BBC Online and Digital
BBC Digital, which manages a large part of BBC Online, sits within the Strategy and Digital division and is responsible for all of the BBC's digital media services. It caters for audiences who want to access and interact with BBC programmes and services through the internet. By bringing technology and design teams together to work in partnership with the BBC's editorial teams it creates products like BBC News Online and BBC iPlayer.
Future Media is made up of 12 business areas, see diagram above.
In addition to these departments, BBC Digital is also supported by:
- Marketing and Audiences
- Legal and Business Affairs
The Digital Group Board is responsible for making key strategic decisions that will shape and lead Digital. The Board meets monthly and is chaired by Ralph Rivera, the Director of BBC Digital. Ralph joined the BBC from Major League Gaming in New York where he was responsible for product development for the largest professional video game league in the world. Prior to that he ran AOL's Games and Latino businesses, oversaw the expansion of AOL's international web presence and launched the social gaming platform games.com.
BBC strategy – where next?
In October 2013 BBC Director-General Tony Hall outlined a new vision for the BBC over the next 10 years.
Read the full speech on the BBC Media Centre.
In 2013/14 BBC Digital announced its five priorities:
- BBC iPlayer: Develop and run the BBC’s primary digital entertainment service, making it the best in the world.
- myBBC: Develop and run capability to drive deeper and more personal relationships with audiences.
- Continuous Delivery: Deploy software early and often, automating processes and using the cloud's flexibility to build great products.
- Innovation at scale: Champion technical creativity within products and outside business as usual in collaboration with the online media industry and run Connected Studio on behalf of the entire BBC.
- The BBC, Online: Develop and run an integrated service for the whole BBC greater than the sum of its parts and built on a broadcast-quality platform fit for the BBC’s global ambitions.
For more information visit the Inside the BBC website.
BBC Online is always looking to build strong working relationships with external suppliers and work with a diverse supplier base across the digital media industry delivering high quality, innovative audience experiences across all four screens (TV, Computer, Tablet, Smart Phone).
Supplier selection is based on overall value for money. Whilst price is important, quality, reliability, safety, security, design, timely delivery, maintenance and after sales support are also considered before arriving at a decision which is the most economically advantageous to the BBC.
BBC Online commissions or outsources work from suppliers throughout the editorial and technical delivery process. This means that suppliers might be working on a very diverse range of activities, from producing content through to software development or user experience design.
In June 2014 three Framework agreements were introduced covering a range of digital media services. The majority of high value design and development commissions will be offered to companies who are signed up to one or other of the following Frameworks:
- Digital Services
- Digital Design
- Digital Testing
Find out more about the Digital Frameworks on the Supplying the BBC website.
Register on the BBC Procurement Portal to be notified when each Framework agreement is next open to new entrants.
Low value contracts may be awarded direct to a single supplier. High value contracts which fall outside any of the BBC’s Frameworks will be offered openly. Non-Framework projects with a lifetime value over the EU threshold (currently £172,514) will be tendered in line with the EU regulations on public procurement.
Details on current open opportunities can be found on the Supplying the BBC website.
The BBC’s Connected Studio innovation programme is a way for digital agencies, technology start-ups and individual designers and developers to share their ideas for innovative features and formats with the BBC’s digital Commissioners. The goal is to add a range of new functions, features or formats across online services, streamlining audience experience and optimising BBC digital media products for the future.
Register your interest and find out more about Connected Studio.
To be kept informed of any openly tendered opportunities as well as information on BBC industry events sign up to the BBC Procurement Portal and make sure contact details are up to date.
Agencies may benefit from discussing proposals with BBC Online contacts before submission.
The BBC Internet blog features staff from the BBC's online and technology teams discussing BBC Online, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and the BBC's digital and mobile services.
Read the BBC Internet blog.
For the latest news on BBC Online follow @bbcinternetblog on Twitter.
View the list of current digital framework suppliers and the review dates for each of the three digital rosters on the Supplying the BBC website.
The Statement of Online Operation sets out the quota agreement for online output including definitions of eligible activity and spend, monitoring and reporting, the principles which underpin commissioning and the statement of operation.
1.1. The BBC commissions a wide range of suppliers to provide technology, production and content in order to publish its online services. The minimum proportion of that output (“the Quota Requirement”) is determined by the BBC Trust in accordance with Clause 58 of the agreement between Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport and the British Broadcasting Corporation of July 2006 (“the BBC Agreement”). The BBC’s Executive Board is responsible for ensuring any requirement the Trust imposes under Clause 58 of the BBC Agreement is met.
1.2. Performance against the Quota Requirement is monitored by both the Executive Board of the BBC and the Trust. The proportion of eligible external spend each year is reported in the BBC’s Annual Report as a percentage of the total eligible budget.
1.3. In this document the BBC explains the calculation of the Quota Requirement (paragraph 2), the monitoring and reporting of the Quota Requirement (paragraph 3), the principles underpinning commissioning (paragraph 4) and goes on to set out a statement of operation (paragraph 5).
2. Eligible Activity and Eligible Spend
The Quota Requirement imposed by the Trust is expressed as a percentage (currently 25%) of what is known as ‘eligible spend’.
The definitions of eligibility are as follows:
Eligible Activity - The base level of activity that the quota applies to
Qualifying External Spend - Qualifying spend outside the BBC that counts toward the BBC meeting the quota.
All online spend by BBC Digital and other BBC divisions, (including any future incremental investment in delivering television content via the internet), is included as Eligible Activity, with the following exclusions:
- Stand-alone hosting and distribution investment (already 100% outsourced through the BBC’s existing SLAs).
- News and News-related content (News, Sports News and Local News)
- Included in the Eligible Spend are whole website commissions, creative inputs, content ingest costs, application technologies, content rights, customised software licences and contractors/freelancer/sole traders engaged on a “deliverables” basis.
- Exclusions from Eligible Spend include platform architecture, infrastructure engineering and operational support; standard software licences for desktop support, contractors/freelancers employed on an ongoing/time basis and all other non-production costs (including most marketing-related spend)
2.2 Any future proposal to vary the types of eligible output must be approved by both the Executive Board and the Trust.
2.3 As a matter of principle, the Quota Requirement may be met from anywhere within the BBC. BBC Digtial is responsible for running the management of the Quota Requirement and agreeing divisional targets. It is the responsibility of each division to forecast and then subsequently meet or exceed their agreed target percentage.
2.4 In the event that a commissioned piece of software, content or production is not delivered by the third party producer (e.g. through company failure) then the spend originally commissioned will be deemed to count toward the Quota Requirement, regardless of any steps which may need to be taken by the BBC to complete or replace the original commission.
2.5 The BBC recognises the considerable contribution made by independent new media suppliers. The BBC has undertaken that the Quota Requirement is a floor not a ceiling and the BBC is open to further growth of the sector on the basis of creative merit and value for money.
3. Monitoring and Reporting
3.1 The Executive Board of the BBC is responsible for ensuring the BBC complies with the requirements imposed by the BBC Trust in relation to Clause 58. Effective oversight of quota achievement requires pooling of information on eligible spend and external spend across all BBC divisions. Responsibility for collating this information lies within the Digital division. Collation must be both ex-post and ex-ante (e.g. through budgeting and forecasting processes), and on an ad hoc basis for unplanned expenditure.
3.2 Consultation with the industry and the Trust has underlined the need for a robust process, thereby ensuring confidence in the information reported by the BBC. A detailed reporting template has been developed with input from external consultants, Digital Finance and an internal risk consultant. BBC Divisions complete the template, reporting external spend on a monthly basis. Because of the need to avoid duplication of reporting between television and online, the process of template completion remains semi-manual.
Process checks include:
- Quarterly reviews with all relevant teams and divisions, led by Digtial Finance and Head of Market Engagement.
- BBC Strategy and Digital Finance has responsibility for ensuring regular updates are provided to the Online Leadership Group (OLG). The Director of Digital owns responsibility for ensuring targets are met and for agreeing mitigations necessary in response to any identified risks, in conjunction with the OLG.
- Cross checking of all funding submissions against central records by Digital Finance
- Monthly monitoring of performance data and major project spend as part of portfolio performance management at the Digital Group Board and Online Leadership Group [TBC with Finance]
- Verification of individual submissions through checking of data against underlying accounting (SAP) information.
3.3 The Executive Board is responsible for monitoring performance against the quotas and targets and for ensuring that BBC Online complies with all of the requirements. The Executive Board will report performance to the Trust periodically.
3.4 The Executive Board should report to the Trust on an interim basis where a significant risk of not achieving a quota arises. The Trust may request further updates as necessary to ensure appropriate remedial action is taken.
3.5 The performance against the Quota Requirement is audited annually by the BBC’s internal audit service and will be completed before final figures go to the Trust for publication in the Annual Report.
3.6 As soon as possible after the end of each financial year the Executive Board submits a report to the Trust, which includes the outturn in relation to the Quota Requirement along with the Executive Board’s commentary on the effectiveness of the operation of the arrangements for the year concerned.
3.7 The Trust reports publicly on performance in the BBC’s Annual Report and Accounts. After considerable consultation with the new media industry, it was agreed that publishing the following performance metrics will be helpful to the industry whilst not compromising commercial confidentiality:
- Total BBC spend on its online services
- Total excluded activity
- Total eligible external spend and percentage attained
- Headline performance by BBC division
- A breakdown of eligible spend by project type
- % of spend of commissions from the Digital Frameworks
- Freelancer spend
- Number of new media suppliers contracted over a 12 month period
- Number of new media suppliers not previously contracted by the BBC
- A national/regional breakdown of commissions
4. Principles Underpinning Commissioning
4.1 Commissioners seek to bring audiences and the licence fee payer great content and services which represent the best possible value for money. The BBC believes this is best achieved by a combination of in-house production and external spend.
4.2 The BBC may commission directly from its in-house production base, based on the appropriate utilisation of existing skills and value for money. Wherever and whenever external suppliers are invited to pitch for commissions the BBC is committed to fair and equal treatment of all potential bidders and a transparent commissioning process.
Small standalone items of low value work may be commissioned direct from a single supplier. All other opportunities should be offered on a competitive basis.
For projects requiring digital design, development and testing in practice this means:
4.2.1 a short-list of appropriate suppliers, usually from one or other of the Digital Frameworks will receive a request for quotation (RFQ); in certain circumstances (e.g. when a commission is time-critical) we may use a pre-selection questionnaire (PSQ) first, to determine supplier availability.
4.2.2 all eligible suppliers will be treated equally and provided with equivalent information so none gains an unfair advantage; and
4.2.3 commissioning decisions will be based solely on the creative/technical merit of the proposal and the value for money offered to the audience and the licence fee payer.
4.3 The BBC will maintain clear and efficient management of information and will seek to minimise the costs relating to the commissioning process borne by suppliers and the licence fee payer. The use of an online commissioning system to tender out projects reduces these costs.
5. Statement of Operation
5.1 Within the above principles, each division is free to determine its own structure for commissioning and commissioning cycles - which will vary according to the demands and needs of the divisions. BBC Television may accept online content proposals that are linked to television commissions under existing BBC Terms of Trade. Other suppliers may be commissioned through an invitation to tender to a number of suppliers selected by objective criteria. The aim is always to find the most efficient, effective and fair way to identify and commission the best ideas. Small standalone items of low value work may be commissioned direct from a single supplier. All other opportunities should be offered on a competitive basis.
5.2 Fairness means being honest with suppliers about their prospects of success. Encouraging producers to devise and submit more proposals than can reasonably be considered is a waste of time and money, both for them and the BBC. It is also pointless to invite proposals from individuals or organisations unable to demonstrate the ability to deliver what the BBC requires. Appropriate suppliers are therefore short-listed before publication of a Request for Quotation to ensure the BBC is asking the most relevant suppliers to pitch.
5.3 Details of processes, commissioning cycles, a guide to who’s who in commissioning, full details of the BBC’s terms of trade for independent commissions and details of BBC guidelines and policies are available on the BBC Commissioning website.
5.4 Details of the BBC Digital Frameworks and how to become an approved supplier are available on this BBC Commissioning website.
5.5 The information to be provided by Digital for the use by each new media commissioning division will include:
5.5.1 commissioning guidelines which explain the process, make it clear who can pitch and set out a timetable for offers and commissioning decisions;
5.5.2 commissioning templates which contain clear guidance on requirements, deliverables and timeline;
5.5.3 a clearly stated complaints process, maintained on behalf of the BBC by the Head of External Supply, BBC Digital.
The service licence for BBC Online states that the BBC is committed to an external spend quota of at least 25% of eligible activity. Reporting on this spend is conducted on a regular basis with yearly reports published publicly. Download previous reports by year:
As part of its commitment to engagement with the external market, BBC Online holds two BBC Online Briefing Events each year which are attended by digital partners, suppliers and BBC personnel.
Watch videos of previous events.
Our governance process is designed to make the fixed points of our business cycle as robust and effective as possible. This gives us a defined framework for both discussion and decision making within a transparent structure.
We have designed our business cycle with three key internal and external meetings in mind in order to provide a direct line of sight between the Online Advisory Group, the External Supply Steering Group and the Online Leadership Group.
The Online Advisory Group’s membership is drawn from across the UK’s digital media sector, and is independently chaired. This group discusses key themes relating to the business, provides direct market input to our strategy and advises the BBC Digital senior leadership team throughout the year.
The OAG meets bi-annually and has its own Terms of Reference. In terms of Governance the OAG supplies information directly to the External Supply Steering Group.
The Online Advisory Group
Chaired by Nicole Yershon of Ogilvy.
Organisations currently represented include:
D Media Network
The External Supply Steering Group meets monthly and focuses entirely on the BBC's relationship with the external market both from a business perspective (contractual, financial and legal) and from an engagement perspective (events, briefings etc.). The membership of this group is internal and it is chaired by the Head of Market Engagement, BBC Future Media.
Finally, the Online Leadership Group is the board that sets the overall strategy and governance of BBC Online. This group meets monthly and is chaired by the Director, BBC Digital.
Find products and contacts across BBC Online on the Online homepage.
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