Print this page Print this page

How We Commission

How BBC Television Accept Proposals

All proposals must be submitted via BBC Pitch enabling the BBC to fulfil its commitments and monitor progress. Find out more about BBC Pitch.

Members of the public not attached to an independent production company should see the opportunities available on the Ideas From the Public page.

The Commissioning Process and Commitments

How the BBC commissions content and agrees contracts is governed by the Code of Practice and the Business Framework.  

Commissioning in TV is a collaboration between channels and genres. To get a programme commissioned it has to work for both.  

What We Are Looking For

Twice a year channels and genres reflect on programme performance, what's been commissioned and future needs. This informs the ideas they are most looking for from producers - their development priorities. These are updated with any changes throughout the year. 

When Commissioners have something over and above these priorities they hold briefings for suppliers. These could be online or face to face. Relevant suppliers are informed about these as they come up. 

One to one meetings with Commissioners will be to discuss ideas in play, not to brief on what we are looking for. This ensures we have time to develop the best ideas. 

Securing a meeting with a Commissioner will be based on the strength of the ideas submitted.

What Happens To Your Idea

Your idea will be looked at first by the genre. If they think it is a good addition to their mix they may ask you to develop it further. When they think it’s ready they will take it to the Channel Controller. The creative dialogue will evolve through conversations with both the channel and genre and will be managed by the Genre Commissioning Editor. 

The Decision Making Process

BBC Television is committed to making commissioning decisions as fast as possible: entering into a dynamic and respectful dialogue with producers whose ideas are in play. We will give feedback on ideas we have actively been developing but this will vary by genre depending on the volume of proposals coming in, the nature of the idea and the characteristics of the genre.

This is the kind of feedback you can expect: 

  • For rejections at an early stage, high volume areas like Factual will give headline feedback only. Lower volume areas will provide more detail.
  • Proposals that are rejected later in the commissioning process will receive more specific feedback.  This may include subject matter, format, audience, plot or character - to provide a useful steer for future projects.

How We Want To Work With Suppliers

We want BBC Television to be a place where producers want to bring their best ideas. If we don’t always live up to that we want you to let us know so we can improve how we work. This is Network Television’s commissioning pledge, as announced by Danny Cohen October 2014: 

  • We will respond to all new ideas within two weeks to tell you what's happening next.
  • We will be honest about what we think – and say ‘no’ more quickly.
  • We will update you once a month on the status of all ideas in active development.
  • We will treat producers as partners – and offer you the professional courtesy that deserves. 
  • We will only ask you to make changes where it would have a significant creative impact for our audience.

If you don’t feel we live up to these ambitions when you work with us please let your Genre Commissioner know or contact our Independents Executive Angela Chan

We also ask for feedback through an annual survey.  


Other Opportunities

In addition to the network genre needs there are also commissioning opportunities through:

Local Programmes: Local services in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions are commissioned locally and ideas should be submitted directly to them. Find contacts for Local programmes.  

Strands: Individual programmes within Factual strands are commissioned by the Strand Editor. The Head of Commissioning is responsible for the commissioning of the strand itself. See individual genre pages for Strand contacts.

Download the Business Affairs Charter governing the BBC’s business affairs dealings with independent production companies.

Development Agreement

Proposals may be provided with funded development, in which case the timetable to commission will be subject to negotiation between the external supplier and the BBC and determined by the development contract. In all other instances the final decision will be no later than 20 weeks from receipt of the proposal. A successful proposal will be given approval by the relevant Head of Commissioning.

Download a template Standard Development Agreement.


The BBC will treat all proposals as confidential. We have signed up to the updated Alliance for the Protection of Copyright (APC) Code of Practice providing guidance around submission and handling of proposals for all types of broadcast and online content. This code forms part of our BBC Pitch Terms and Conditions and you should read this information before registering for the system.

Download the APC Code of Practice

Quotas, Targets And The Statement Of Operation

BBC Television is subject to a number of formal quotas and targets relating to who makes content, what the content is about and where it is made. Some of these commitments are legal requirements which are monitored by Ofcom and some are targets which have been agreed with the BBC Trust. The statement of Operation explains how these quotas and targets work and how the BBC Executive Board will ensure they are delivered and reported.

Download the Statement of Operation

Read full quota and target information.

There is an annual planning process taking the channel and genre strategies and building them into a detailed plan of what's needed and at what price in each transmission slot. After agreeing on any returning series, ideas will be invited for the remaining slots. Quotas and targets are overlaid on this plan to make sure commitments will be met. At this stage there would be an initial idea of which programmes would make up the various quotas, ensuring a range of programming, prices and locations from each.

These plans may change as the commissioning landscape evolves, for example:

The overall spend and hours in a genre may change if channel strategy changes ie if a channel decided to play Drama rather than Entertainment in a particular slot or vice versa.

The genre strategy may evolve across a year as audience reaction to programmes comes through.

As commissions are confirmed the finances or quota requirements of the remaining slots may need to be re-balanced.

Commissioned projects may need to move delivery dates because of talent availability, production requirements etc. If this involves moving into a different financial year it may affect the original plan and need to be re-assessed.

Opportunities for similar programmes often exist across more than one supply category. For example, if an idea is being developed for a slot in the Independent Quota and then that slot is commissioned, the idea may then move to compete for a space for similar programmes in the WoCC.

The Slate Management teams in each genre respond to these changes and constantly re-iterate the plan based on latest information to ensure that budgets, quotas and targets are met.

This may mean that the precise make-up of the quotas is moving at the margins in most genres over time. For these reasons, it is often not possible to confirm the supply category until the end of the financial year.


Find out more about quotas and targets.

Submit Your Proposal
TV: What We Want
Business & Production

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.