How we do business

Standard programme production agreement

Download a sample standard programme production agreement (PPA) – General terms (PDF) and Special terms (PDF).

Download previous versions of the programme production agreement:

General terms 2014 (PDF) and Special terms 2014 (PDF).

General terms 2005 (PDF) and Special terms 2005 (PDF).

Download a sample World Service standard programme production agreement – General terms (PDF) and Special terms (PDF).

The PPA covers (but is not limited to):

  • General terms 
  • Special terms
  • Delivery items
  • Excerpt from Charter
  • Trade mark schedule
  • New media deliverables


Special terms: commissioning specification

The Commissioning specification includes:

  • Editorial specification
  • Creative brief
  • Production brief
  • Key approvals
  • Production account
  • Delivery and technical requirements
  • Training requirements


The Commissioning specification will be completed using the programme information the independent production company has supplied in Proteus. The programme information will also inform discussions as to the licence fee that will be offered by the BBC to the independent production company. It is important to set out in the document the production detail, any assumptions as well as the editorial vision for the programme as accurately as possible as the specification will form part of the indies legal obligations to the BBC.

All boxes and sections of the document should be completed, however, it may be that some points cannot be agreed at the point of signature in which case 'to be agreed' should be inserted and these details must be finalised with the BBC as soon as possible within the agreed licence fee. Other points may not be relevant to the particular production as the Commissioning specification is designed to accommodate a wide variety of genres and types of productions. 'Not applicable' should be added to such sections.

Please note that once agreed and signed by the production and the BBC the Commissioning specification cannot be varied in any way without the independent producer or the BBC's written consent.

Key agreements are agreements for persons listed in the Key approvals section (section 4) of the Commissioning specification where the BBC has expressly indicated in the third column headed 'Key agreement' that it requires prior approval of the terms (ie not just approval of the identity of the individual). In practice, it is likely that the BBC would only require approval of fees for key talent/presenters and other deal terms for some presenters, writers, on-air talent, format licences, etc.

The production must deliver the programme in accordance with the Commissioning specification on or before the agreed delivery date set out in the Commissioning specification. Failure to deliver the programme by this date will mean that the company is in breach of the production agreement.

If there is any doubt over the ability to deliver a programme on time the BBC should be alerted at the earliest opportunity. Any changes to the delivery date must be pre-agreed with the BBC in writing.

Please see the delivery timeline for a full list of the assets to be delivered as part of a standard BBC programme commission.



Under the New Terms, the BBC intends to provide clarity at the point of commission about the extent and nature of its own proposed digital investment (content or features). Where the BBC does not have plans to invest in such material, the independent will be able to develop commercial, digital brand extensions.

The BBC will consent to the release of a programme into the secondary radio (and/or television for related audio-visual content) and commercial audio/video on-demand market (both pay audio/video-on-demand and subscription audio/video on-demand) during the BBC’s licence period where it considers that further exploitation of the programme in the UK by the exercise of such rights would not conflict with the rights it has acquired and the investment it has made.

Download the BBC’s release policy for secondary radio and commercial programming in the UK (PDF)

See the Policies page for full details of the policies and guidelines productions should be across.


Programme prices

The price the BBC pays for a programme is determined by a number of factors including:

  • The expected budget of the programme
  • The value of the programme to the schedule
  • The price will include a production fee paid to the independent producer in line with the Terms of trade
  • The price will be inclusive of any development funding paid by the BBC on a programme.
  • The level of up-front third party investment, if any, that the programme could reasonably expect to attract in the marketplace

Each conditional commission will be made with a fixed price offer that has been judged as value for money by the Commissioning, Finance and Business Affairs teams. If our price is accepted by you in writing there will be no need to submit a detailed budget.  If, however, you wish to challenge the offer made then a detailed budget in Proteus will be requested and scrutinised by our Finance and Business Affairs team with the aim of reaching agreement. Conditional acceptances may be withdrawn if agreement on price is not reached within a reasonable period.

For the majority of radio commissions the cash flow is payable in two stages: 50% on signature and return of your production agreement, and 50% on delivery of all programme-related material as specified in the programme production agreement (section 6 of the Commissioning specification). For larger commissions, the cash flow may be amended to three or four stages to reflect the production schedule: and for long-running series, to monthly payments. This should be raised and discussed at the time of the budget negotiation.

All new suppliers will need to supply the following details to Business Affairs as soon as possible after a programme has been commissioned by the relevant Network and your budget has been agreed:

  • Company name
  • Contact name
  • Telephone details
  • Fax details
  • Bank name and address
  • Account name
  • Sort code

We may require you to set up a trust account for a particular programme or series of programmes. If this is the case, you will be required to complete a bank mandate. Download a bank mandate resolution (PDF).  



Invoices should be sent to IBM only after the relevant paperwork and deliverables have been submitted. Payment queries should be directed to IBM on 0800 098 8106.

It is imperative that your VAT invoice also includes the Purchase Order Number and BBC contact name (i.e. 'BBC Contact: [use name of Business Affairs Manager, Business Affairs Executive or Business Affairs Assistant]') in case of a query.

Address for invoices: BBC ACCOUNTS PAYABLE, PO BOX 747, REDHILL RH1 9GE

Invoicing the BBC electronically and checking payment status online:

As part of our continuing programme to improve our invoice and payments process the BBC partners with the Tungsten Network to allow you to:

  • input invoices (and credit notes) with reference to purchase orders; and
  • check the status of your invoices

The benefits to using this service are:

  • Free of charge
  • Removes the costs associated with paper invoice printing and posting.
  • Invoice receipt is guaranteed; removing the possibility of lost or misplaced invoices.
  • Invoices are validated in the BBC’s accounts payable system without delay.
  • The status of individual invoices can be checked online. 

If you would like more information please email


Complaints about the Radio commissioning process

This procedure is for Radio independent production companies. It should be used where a company believes it has concerns relating to the BBC's commissioning process that have not been fully addressed by the commissioning genre. (PDF of complaints about commissioning process).

Download the guidance on complaints.



Latest Radio news

More news