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Business and Production Guide

A guide for Independent Production Companies to the services and procedures you will need to be aware of from the early through to final stages of production. See the Who's Who to find details of your contacts in the Genre Business Teams.


  1. Getting Started
  2. Health and Safety
  3. Insurance
  4. Clearances
  5. Use of the BBC's music blanket licences
  6. Contributors, Key Agreements and other Third Party agreements
  7. Commissioning Specification
  8. Programme Finance Committee Approvals
  9. Progress Reporting
  10. Publicity Stills / Promotional DVDs / Clips
  11. BBC Guidelines and Compliance
  12. Contact with the BBC's legal departments
  13. Delivery
  14. Programme as Completed Forms and Underlying Paperwork
  15. Using BBC Archives
  16. Using clips of BBC programmes
  17. Trade Marks
  18. Directors UK (formerly DPRS)
  19. Invoicing
  20. Data Protection Guidelines
  21. Children in programmes
  22. Guidance for programmes using audience interactivity
  23. Accounting and reporting distribution revenues to the BBC
  24. Document Checklist

Getting Started

This page provides most of the information you will need to know in relation to producing and delivering your programme in accordance with the BBC's requirements. This, together with your production agreement and the information set out in these notes should provide the answer to most questions you will have. For any further assistance please speak to the relevant BBC contact who you are dealing with in connection with your programme.

Health and Safety

Health and Safety are essential factors to consider on your production. If your company has not been approved in the past 3 years, you will need to submit a health and safety questionnaire for approval. This is an essential part of the commissioning process and your programme will not be considered by the relevant Programme Finance Committee until the health and safety questionnaire is returned completed. The questionnaire provides a general assessment of your health and safety policy and accident record. A copy of the questionnaire required is available in the downloads section of this page.

Approval lasts for a period of 3 years. Once it expires, a re-submission of a full policy is required.

If you have a current approval, additional assurances will still be needed in certain circumstances, before the commission can be confirmed:

  1. If your company has a current "Standard" approval, but the relevant project involves Hazardous Activities.
  2. If, on any commissions for the BBC after the approval was given, your company has either (a) experienced any significant accidents or incidents and/or (b) been notified by the BBC that further assurances will be required in advance of any future BBC commissions.
  3. The production involves filming in a hostile environment or other High Risk.

This information will be captured on the Commissioning Specification (See the Terms of Trade page to download).

Please note that all assurance monitoring by the BBC of your company's health and safety arrangements (whether before, during, or after production) is in order for the BBC to satisfy itself that your company is an appropriate organisation for the BBC to be contracting with. All responsibility for production health and safety remains with your company at all times, and nothing shall operate to transfer any such responsibilities to the BBC by virtue of its assurance monitoring activities.


You are required to ensure that appropriate production insurance is in place before you commence production, and, where the BBC is cash-flowing the Licence Fee, that the BBC has approved these arrangements.

AON are currently the provider of the BBC's insurance scheme for BBC commissioned independent productions and the cost is presently 0.5% of the "insurable amount" of a production's costs (as set out below). When a production joins the scheme, this amount is deducted from the Primary Rights Licence Fee payable to you and is paid directly by the BBC.

When you initially call Aon to put insurance in place, Aon will check that the BBC is the single largest funder of the project, what type of production it is, the total insurable amount (total budget minus production fee, overheads, royalties, insurance premium and contingency) and who is the Business Affairs Manager at the BBC for the project. From this information they determine whether the particular production qualifies for the scheme (if there is any doubt Aon will contact BBC Insurance Services). AON then send the BBC Proposal Form (available in downloads) to you via email and ask you to complete and send it back. AON will then contact the Business Affairs Manager / Assistant Programme Finance Manager at the BBC to make sure the Programme is fully commissioned and to check that insurance may be put in place.

The BAM / APFM will issue a SAP code to AON to enable them to collect the cost of the insurance and within 3 days AON will send you your insurance documents and cover letter. This usually includes documents for completion such as driver's declarations, Statement of Health forms, travel forms and also an indie guide. The indie guide (see downloads) outlines each section of the policy and lets you know what the production is covered for.

Important covers applied for include employers' liability, public liability and travel insurance. The travel insurance, provided by AON and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance, satisfies the agreement in place with the unions to provide a certain level of travel insurance for your crew whilst working abroad on a BBC funded production, details of which can also be found in the indie guide.

In some circumstances you will need to obtain specialist insurance and you should contact either AON or your own insurer in order to put this insurance in place. When filming in hostile environments in particular you will need to plan and budget for the additional risks and costs which may be involved (e.g. equipment confiscation, detention, security services, specialist insurances etc) as standard production insurances are unlikely to cater for such risks. You should discuss details of any specialist insurances you plan to buy with your BBC Business Affairs Manager.

It should be stressed that although you are not obliged to use AON you must have adequate insurance in place as set out in clause 8 of the General Terms (See the Terms of Trade page to download) for the Production of Television Programmes by Independent Producers (see downloads) and the terms of any alternative insurance coverage must be approved in writing in advance by the BBC.

You are required to arrange and maintain insurance against all risks normally insured against in accordance with the customary practice of prudent film and television producers which includes Errors and Omissions (E&O) where applicable. The BBC considers it to be best practice for production companies to have E&O cover, and so if you join the BBC insurance scheme you will be offered the option to purchase E&O cover using the Quartz E&O Scheme.  This option is being launched in May 2013 initially on a trial basis. 

If you chose not to join the BBC insurance scheme,  the Quartz E&O scheme will also be available for the duration of the trial. 

You can find details of the Quartz E&O scheme here:

Given that the commissioning agreement requires you to provide an indemnity in favour of the BBC, the E&O cover has been designed to respond to defamation and IPR claims made under the commissioning agreement, including claims which may arise from your commercial exploitation of the programme.

If you are storing any sets, props, costumes, or any other similar material created or acquired in connection with the Programme in accordance with General Term 12.4.2 then, whilst the BBC is paying for storage, these items will be covered (for the BBC's benefit only) under the BBC's general insurance cover (but you will need to notify the BBC's Head of Insurance if the value in store is in excess of £250k). This insurance cover will expire upon de-commission of the Programme by the BBC. If a Programme is re-commissioned, these items must be covered again under your production insurance once you go into pre-production on the subsequent Programme (whether under the BBC production scheme or otherwise).

New Media Deliverables

If you have been commissioned to produce New Media Deliverables under Schedule 9 or one of the BBC's Framework Agreements, then you will be required to arrange and maintain with a reputable insurer adequate Public Liability Insurance (including Product Liability Insurance) and Professional Indemnity Insurance (including Technology Errors and Omissions). You should take particular note of the financial levels and periods of cover required which are set out in your agreement with the BBC.

If in doubt about any of your insurance needs you should always discuss them with your BBC Business Affairs Manager.


The BBC expects contributors to be contracted under the union agreements between PACT and Equity, or the Musicians' Union, or the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, or otherwise to be bought out for all uses of the programme which the BBC is entitled to make during its licence period (including for the avoidance of doubt, the BBC's new media rights and extract rights) - unless otherwise agreed. This applies to every element of the programme (interviewees and contributors, presenters, writers, actors, walk-ons, voice-overs, artworks, stills, library footage, music etc).

The detailed basis upon which contributions to the programme should be contracted within the agreed licence fee is as set out in General Term 6 of the General Terms (See the Terms of Trade page to download) of your Programme Production Agreement unless specifically modified in Special Term 3.2 contained in Schedule 1 of your Programme Production Agreement.

Your production agreement (Special Term 3.2 and General Term 6 of the General Terms, see the Terms of Trade page to download).) will make it clear which BBC uses need to be pre-paid within the licence fee and which BBC uses should be clearable subject to further payment. These repeat/use costs must be as approved by the BBC (for the avoidance of doubt, standard union rates are approved) and recorded in the Schedule of Residuals which you are required to deliver to the BBC at the end of production (You can download the Schedule of Residuals template on the Terms of trade page) You should therefore establish that it is possible to get these rights and what they cost, even if under the terms of your production agreement you are not required to pay for them straight away.

If you have any queries in relation to clearances please refer in the first instance to the person in your company who is responsible for production management or business affairs issues.

Archive Clearances

Archive houses are generally familiar with the nature of the 'public service rights' required for BBC commissions, but if you have difficulty obtaining rights from any archive houses, please let your BAM know and they will see if there is anything the BBC can do to help. Any archive footage that cannot be cleared for the rights the BBC needs, should not be included in the programme.

BBC in-house production has arrangements in place with a list of archive houses which should have no difficulty understanding the rights that you are seeking for your BBC commission. The details of these archive houses are contained in the Public Service Rights list (see downloads).

Use of the BBC's music blanket licences

In order for your programme to be covered by the BBC's public service blanket licences with the music industry, at least 10% of the programme funding must come from the BBC. Assuming this is the case, you should use BBC Music Copyright's online automated clearance system Autoclear (Fastclear) to clear your music in connection with the programme, as long as you provide the necessary music reporting information as set out in General Term 6 of your production agreement.

1. Go to Music Austclear (FastClear)

2. Enter the username and password as follows:

Username: fastclear
Password: iwantmusic

You can find conatct details for the BBC's Music Copyright team in the Who's Who section.   

In the event that BBC Worldwide hold the distribution rights in your programme, the use of music may fall under BBC Worldwide's blanket agreements with the music industry, and again you can use the Autoclear system to check this; please note however that additional clearances are required should BBC Worldwide require DVD/DTO rights in the US territory. Natasha Pullin, Music Rights Exec can offer specific advice and guidance in respect of music blankets/BBC Worldwide investments (0208 752 5006).

Contributors, Key Agreements and other Third Party Agreements

You will need to enter into a number of contracts with a variety of contributors/third parties depending on the needs of your production. If you have any questions regarding third party contracts, or if you think BBC Business Affairs can help in any way, please contact them as early on as possible. PACT model contracts are available for producers, directors, presenters, locations, stills, consultants etc, and may generally be used without BBC prior approval unless they are a Key Agreement, or are being varied in a way which does not comply with the production agreement.

As mentioned in paragraph 4 above, unless otherwise stated in the Special Term 3 of your Production Agreement (see downloads) you need to contract all contributors for your programme in accordance with Clause 6 of the General Terms (see the Terms of Trade page to download). As your contributor contracts are expected to meet these requirements, the BBC does not need to specifically approve each contract (unless it is a Key Agreement - see below). Please note though, that any variation to the provisions set out in General Term 6 or Special Term 3 could only be made with BBC consent.

The only exception to this is where the BBC has indicated in paragraph 4 of the Commissioning Specification (see the Terms of Trade page to download) that it requires prior approval of any "Key Agreements" (as distinct from approving the identity of the person). For these, you would need to secure BBC consent to the proposed agreement terms and/or fee before signing them. In giving its approval, the BBC will only be commenting on issues affecting the BBC (for example additional payments such as repeats and entitlements to net, compliance with BBC policies, and any reserved rights that may undermine the General Terms) and not on any other aspects that may affect you, but not the BBC. Please note that approval of a draft agreement by Business Affairs does not imply approval of any proposed credit (such approval is an editorial matter). Please let the BBC have an early draft of these agreements, so that any BBC comments can be incorporated at the early stage of negotiations.

It remains your responsibility to obtain independent legal advice with regard to all other aspects of your proposed third party agreements and their suitability with regard to the overall terms of the Programme Production Agreement between your company and the BBC, and your company's requirements generally.

Commissioning Specification

The Commissioning Specification makes up the Second Schedule of the Production Agreement. Both documents can be found in the Terms of Trade page downloads section.

The Commissioning Specification needs to be completed (by you in consultation with your Commissioning Executive) as early as possible during discussions (even at the development stage) in order to inform discussions between your company and the BBC as to the licence fee. It is important to set out in the document the production detail, any assumptions as well as the editorial vision for your programme as accurately as possible as this specification will form part of your legal obligations to the BBC.

Once the details are agreed between you and the Commissioning Executive the document will be sent to the Business Affairs Manager for further checking and will then form part of the final contract, where it will be counter-signed by the BBC Commissioning Exec Please note, ALL boxes and sections of the document should be completed, however, it may be that some points cannot be agreed at the point of contract signature in which case please insert "to be agreed" 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 your particular production as the Commissioning Specification is designed to accommodate a wide variety of genres and types of productions. Please therefore put "not applicable" in such sections.

Please consider any proposals for your Production or Production Material to be used on the BBC's Public Service "new media" platforms to enhance the core editorial proposition for the Programme. Any relevant details should be included in a separate document, called Schedule 9, which will also form part of the final contract.

Please note that once agreed and signed by you and the BBC, the Commissioning Specification cannot be varied in any way without your or the BBC's written consent.

Managed Risk Programme List

BBC Vision maintains a "Managed Risk Programme List". You will know that your programme has been put on this List either because this will be specified in your Commissioning Specification, or because your commissioning executive will have informed you. The Managed Risk Programme List operates as an early warning system to highlight programmes with specific editorial risks, intrinsic or reputational risks (rather than regular concerns around Health and Safety, competitions, voting or awards which are managed through different procedures).

Intrinsic risk - for example, a programme where there's a legal issue or very difficult Editorial Policy decisions. A factual programme involving secret filming would certainly qualify under this definition, or a factual drama in which a living person is being portrayed in a way they might object to.

Reputational risk - this would be any programme which, although not ostensibly about a difficult topic, could damage the reputation of the BBC. Not intrinsically risky, but still a programme that could attract a lot of press or public attention.

Being on the List also has specific contractual consequences:

It means that in addition to the standard rights and approvals that the BBC has in connection with the programme (including with regards to any distribution and promo activity in the UK), you will need to discuss with your commissioning representative (i.e. the BBC Commissioning Executive or Business Affairs Manager) all the distribution plans for the programme, including any overseas promotional plans that you or your licensees may have.

As part of this discussion, you will need to agree in writing a risk management strategy in connection with the distribution plans (which might include your commissioning representative having sign-off of certain overseas activities or materials).

You must then, of course, comply with the risk management strategy agreed with your BBC commissioning representative (unless any variations are subsequently agreed in writing).

Programme Finance Committee Approvals

All independent productions require approval by the Programme Finance Committee prior to signature and cashflow. Some productions require approval from more than one committee depending on the level of funding or particular deal terms. Your Business Affairs Manager works on your behalf to get your production to these committees promptly. Please discuss any concerns you may have with your Business Affairs Manager. Please note that PFC approval is the only way financial terms will be finalised and agreed. All other conversations and communications should not be considered as financial approval/sign off.

Progress Reporting

The BBC is entitled to monitor the production of the programme to enable the BBC to assess any material risks that the programme may not be delivered in accordance with the Commissioning Specification (See the Terms of Trade page to download). To enable the BBC to do this, you should:

  1. submit a Production Report (previously called Progress Report) in the approved form to the BBC Business Affairs Manager. Production Reports should be submitted with every stage payment invoice and/or on the dates set out in your Commissioning Specification and as reasonably requested by the BBC, and
  2. notify the BBC Business Affairs Manager of any problems that could jeopardise the production or delivery of the programme in accordance with the Commissioning Specification.

Publicity Stills / promotional DVDs / Clips

The number of Publicity Stills and promotional DVDs which you need to deliver is set out in the Commissioning Specification. Please also refer to the Stills and Photography guidance notes available here. If you need any guidance with regard to the publicity stills please contact BBC Pictures at For general guidance about promotional DVDs please contact the Preview DVDs unit on 020 8225 8463 or email For guidance on clips please contact the Clips Unit on 020 8576 8847 or email

Please make sure that your company makes copies of the stills which it requires for its own purposes, as the BBC has limited storage capacity and, in accordance with its usual practice, may destroy any materials that it no longer requires.

Please ensure that there are no approvals granted in your talent agreements over the publicity stills which you are contracted to deliver to the BBC under the PPA. If you have any queries about this please speak to your usual business contact.

BBC Guidelines and Compliance

Find a full list of applicable BBC guidelines and policies  that you will need to consider in relation to your production and which you must comply with under the terms of your Production Agreement. If you have previously been commissioned by the BBC could you please make sure that your staff are using the current versions of all these, as contacts and procedures may change from time to time.

In particular, please note that you are required to comply with the BBC's Editorial policies as set out in the BBC Editorial Guidelines. If you have any queries about these and how they may affect any aspect of your production, please contact your relevant commissioning executive in the first instance, who will be able to refer you to the appropriate Editorial Policy advisor for your production. The Editorial Policy team may also be reached directly on 020 8008 1819 (internally within BBC 02 81819). Please do keep your Business Affairs Manager informed of the progress of any Editorial Policy issues which arise in respect of the production.

Independent production companies and freelance content producers are advised to attend the BBC Editorial Values two hour face-to face course Welcome to the BBC – Editorial Values. This replaces the previous Safeguarding Trust online training course. It is not mandatory for independent production companies to attend the course but it is highly recommended to all those making content for the BBC. The course will be mandatory for new joiners to in-house BBC  production teams.

The session is free of charge to independent production companies and freelancers. It is open to all but it is recommended that those who have not completed the Safeguarding Trust course should be prioritised. 

To book a place on one of these sessions or discuss dates and locations email or call the team on 07711 349 252.

The face-to-face course will be supported by a range of 30 minute online tutorials.


Relying on advice from the BBC

Please note that it is your company's responsibility to ensure that the programme complies with all the legal requirements as set out in the General Terms (see the Terms of Trade page to download). Nevertheless, the nature of your programme may mean that during production you come into contact with one (or more) of the BBC's internal legal or rights departments through your Commissioning Executive or Business Affairs Manager. Please note that any guidance or opinion given by such internal departments is for the BBC's own purposes and should not be taken to constitute legal advice to your company. Any reliance that you may choose to place on any such opinion or guidance shall not, unless specifically agreed in writing by the BBC, be deemed to waive your obligations or warranties under the terms of your programme production agreement.

Maintaining legal privilege

Please also note that when legal advice is provided in connection with a programme, it is normally confidential and protected from having to be disclosed to third parties by what is known as 'legal advice privilege'. This 'privilege' is an important safeguard which may be unintentionally lost or waived in certain circumstances, including when the advice is communicated to someone who is not the lawyer's "client", unless certain measures are put in place.

In this case, the "client" of the relevant legal department is the BBC and, in most cases, advice will be provided direct to the BBC's commissioning executive or business affairs representative for the programme in question. However, it is recognised that, because of the nature of your commission from the BBC, you may share a common interest in the subject matter of such advice and it may be appropriate in certain circumstances for that advice to be shared with you or occasionally provided to you direct, even though you are not the client.

It is important therefore for the BBC to ensure that there is no waiver of legal advice privilege as a result of this. Accordingly, please note that any such advice which is shared with you or provided directly to you is done without waiving your obligations or warranties as mentioned above (unless agreed otherwise in writing) and is done strictly subject to the following terms:

  1. That any such advice is privileged legal advice and the benefit of that privilege belongs to the BBC as the disclosing party
  2. That the provision of such advice does not amount to any waiver of privilege on the part of the BBC
  3. That any such advice is provided in strict confidence and will be held by you in strict confidence and may not be disclosed by you to any third parties without the express written consent of the BBC (save as required by law or regulation).


Please be aware that "time is of the essence" in relation to the delivery date set out in your production agreement. This means that you must deliver the programme in accordance with the Commissioning Specification on or before the agreed delivery date set out in the Commissioning Specification, and failure to deliver your programme by this date will mean that your company is in breach of the production agreement.

If you are in any doubt over your ability to deliver your programme on time you should alert the BBC at the earliest opportunity. Any changes to the delivery date must be pre-agreed with the BBC in writing.

Please note Schedule 3 - Section D of the Programme Production Agreement as regards delivery of Final Paperwork. This should be delivered via email or fax (or faxination) to the relevant Business Affairs contact.

Full details of the BBC's technical delivery requirements are contained in your production agreement and on the Production and Delivery website. Please note that if a tape as delivered fails its technical review, the cost for a second technical review falls to your company once you have put the problems right.

Programme as Completed Forms and Underlying Paperwork

When the production is complete it is necessary to compile various documents (where applicable through the P4A system) such as the transmission form, programme as completed form, music cue sheet, billing, post production script (if applicable), BBC television compliance form, and underlying contracts and agreements. Full details of the BBC's delivery contacts and requirements (including timings) are as set out on the delivery website and a representative from the appropriate deliveries area will be in touch with you closer to your programme delivery date. Please note that the underlying paperwork you are required to deliver forms part of the Delivery Items set out in the Programme Production Agreement and that delivery is not complete until they are received and accepted. It should be noted that payment of your final invoice cannot be approved until Business Affairs has accepted all the necessary underlying paperwork.

Using BBC Archives

Independent production companies can make use of the wealth and resources from BBC Archives. Please note the BBC DOES NOT ISSUE charge codes externally for this

Charge codes are for internal BBC use only. (NB: You may be asked for a charge code by BBC Archives, so please make clear you are an independent production company making a programme for the BBC.) As an independent, you will need to set up an account with BBC Archives and budget for any costs involved in using I&A's services, as this must be covered by the primary rights licence fee. Information and guidance notes relating to the resources available from the BBC's Archive department and how Information and Archives operates with independents is available on the Archives page.

Using clips of BBC programmes

If you want to use a clip in your programme taken from another BBC programme (made by the BBC or commissioned from another independent) you are entitled to do so, subject to certain limitations (for example, the restrictions relating to clips featuring sexual content or clip durations laid out in Talent Union Agreements). 

Your production agreement with the BBC requires you to clear clips for public service rights as defined in the agreement. 

  • Commercial Music from the transmission which has been cleared under the BBC's music blanket agreements, can be used on and on the BBC's YouTube channel with no additional clearance.
  • Acquired Material: Online rights must be cleared separately for material from another programme or bought in footage.
  • Comedy and Drama clips are restricted to a maximum of two clips per episode with strict limits on duration due to the relevant underlying rights frameworks. 
  • If you need any assistance in relation to clearance of content, specific advice on short form video or music rights etc, please refer in the first instance to your Business Affairs Manager.


Trade Marks

Under the provisions of your production agreement, certain distribution activities regarding the programme in the UK must carry the BBC logo (General Term 16.2.4). If you are licensing any of these rights to third parties you are required to ensure that they enter into a Trade Mark licence directly with the BBC for these purposes. There is a streamlined process to enable you to achieve this, which is explained on the Information sheet in the downloads section on this page. Make sure you have the following Trade Mark documentation, all three of these documents can be found in the downloads section of this page, top right.

  • Trade Mark Information Sheet
  • Trade Mark Special Terms
  • Trade Mark General Terms

Directors UK (formerly DPRS)

PACT and the broadcasters agreed in October 2012 an updated framework with DUK for reimbursement back to broadcasters in relation to the payment made to DUK in respect of repeats and secondary exploitation of programming. Download full details of the re-charge framework.

Please note that:

  • an individual director's membership of the DUK is irrelevant for the purposes of whether or not an individual project bears a recharge
  • provided that a director is engaged on a director's contract, EU and non-EU status of the director is also irrelevant
  • the recharge applies to programmes commissioned from both UK and foreign indies.

The amount to be reimbursed to the BBC will be withheld from your final cashflow payment upon acceptance of all deliverables. You will need to calculate the amount due by reference to the agreed Framework and show this as a deduction on the face of your final invoice as agreed with your BBC Business Affairs manager.

If you have any queries about the Framework, please contact PACT.


Independent companies should invoice according to the agreed stage payments, with due regard to the fact that Steria will take a period of 1-2 weeks to process a payment.

Invoices should be submitted in a form that Steria can process. Please read the guidelines on invoicing in full. The following are some key points from these guidelines:

  • Invoices should be addressed to the BBC (not the individual contact)
  • Ensure the company address is accurate (i.e. the main address, not a temporary production office)
  • Always quote the bank details for the payment (in most cases, a separate indie production account in the name of the programme)
  • If the invoice is addressed to Steria, BBC Accounts Payable, PO Box 479, Manchester M14 0EJ, please ensure you quote an order number and BBC contact details (i.e. PFM name and extension number)

Deductions from cashflow should be agreed at the earliest possible point. These would include:

  • Development funding already cash-flowed
  • recovery of insurance premium
  • BBC Archive charges not covered by the new arrangement for Indies (e.g. Sport Library)
  • IPTF levy (usually on the final invoice)
  • DPRS levy (also on the final invoice)

The IPTF levy should appear on the final invoice as a line after the VAT calculation, i.e. a deduction from the gross sum. If in doubt, ask your BBC finance contact for advice on the form of this final invoice.

Final payment is not released until all delivery paperwork (as set out in Schedule 3 of your programme production agreement) has been received and approved. Please ensure this paperwork is accurately completed and compiled to avoid delays in payment.

Data Protection Guidelines

In accordance with the Data Protection Act (DPA), and as required under the BBC's standard production agreement, production companies are responsible for ensuring they manage and protect personal data properly and in accordance with the legislation.

Read the full details of the BBC Data Protection Policy.

Children and young people in programmes

As producer you have a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of children and young people.

To do so you need to ensure you are compliant with the relevant legislation and your obligations when involving children in a programme.

The following information is to highlight a number of the areas you will need to consider if you are working with a child or young person.

While all under 18s are covered by Child Protection law, for the purposes of the Editorial Guidelines a ‘child’ is someone under the age of 15 years and ‘young people’ are those aged 15,16 and 17. For further information please refer to the BBC Editorial Guidelines and Ofcom.

For the purposes of the CRB, a child is defined as someone who is under 18 (or under 16 if the child is employed).

Child Protection Policy

The BBC expects all companies who work with children and young people on programmes for the BBC to comply with the BBC’s Child Protection Policy and to have specific processes in place to enable implementation of these provisions in the context of producing programmes for the BBC.  If you have any questions arising from this Policy, please raise them with your BBC commissioning executive in the first instance.

The BBC has also published a working with children handbook and a code of conduct which independent producers will find helpful.

Filming children and young people

You need to familiarise yourself with the relevant and applicable laws when working with children for example the Safeguarding Vulnerables Groups Act 2006, the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 and The Children (Performances) Regulations 1968 (as amended). You will also need to take into consideration the variances in the law regarding child performance for NI, Scotland and Wales, and the relevant laws when filming children and young people overseas.

In order to apply the appropriate child protection and welfare measures required for your production, you should fully discuss with your commissioning editor the format and the child related editorial aspects of your programme during the course of your commissioning discussions. 

PACT offer their members detailed guidance on working with children which we recommend that you follow, PACT members can also contact PACT to discuss and get further guidance.

Obtaining a licence

If you need to obtain a licence to work with a child, you should contact the local authorities at the earliest moment you intend to engage a child performer. You should note local authorities have the power to refuse to grant a licence if the application is not received 21 days before the performance.

The licence will stipulate a number of requirements that you will need to adhere to when filming for example daily and weekly hours of work, rest periods, education, provisions of chaperones, conditions of place of work, rest periods and meal times, record keeping and medical examinations.

Notifying the BBC of child protection issues

In the unlikely event of an issue arising in connection with the welfare of a child or young person involved in your production for the BBC, you must inform both your BBC commissioning executive and business affairs manager as soon as possible and in any event within 48 hours of a senior member of the production team being informed (ensuring your notification is acknowledged).  Whilst your company remains fully responsible for dealing with the issue in the appropriate manner, you must keep the BBC informed of the progress of any investigation into the issues and allow the BBC to input into those investigations where appropriate.

Other practical licensing points for BBC commissions
  • When applying to a local authority for a licence, please make it clear that it is your company that is the applicant and not the BBC.
  • Please provide your Company's head office address, as well as the production office address in the licence. This in the event that the production office closes down after filming, you should provide the local authority a contactable address at all times. If you haven't done so, the BBC may be asked by a local authority to supply your contact details.

Other matters for consideration

Here are some examples of the other issues you should consider relating to children:

Guidance for programmes using audience interactivity

The BBC has issued guidance notes (see downloads) to Independent production companies for the use of interactivity in BBC commissioned programmes.

This guide covers the following types of audience interactivity: telephony, SMS, online, post, email and red button.

Please note that PhonePay Plus, the regulator for all premium rate services, are implementing a registration scheme which, from September 2011, will be mandatory for anyone promoting premium rate services. The BBC will be registered, and any initiative involving promotion of a premium rate number through the BBC will be covered under the BBC's registration. However, independent production companies should be aware that if they promote premium rate numbers outside BBC media (eg printed media), they will need to register in their own right.

Accounting and reporting distribution revenues to the BBC

You are required to pay the BBC its share of revenue from distribution activities in accordance with the detailed provisions of your production agreement with the BBC. To help ensure full compliance with your obligations, please note the following:

Please send electronic statements to:

Hard copies to:

BBC Business Management Team
BBC Television, DF&A
Zone A, Floor 7
BBC New Broadcasting House
Portland Place
London W1A 1AA

All queries relating to royalty reporting should be directed to:

Neil Saffer
Business Co-ordinator
BBC Television
Email: Neil Saffer


Points to note about your accounting statements

  • Statements for any revenue you have received are submitted within 30 days of the end of each reporting period - March 31st and September 30th.
  • Each statement must give full details of:
  1. the distributors gross receipts broken down into its different sources (ie territory & rights),
  2. details of commission and all expenses deducted (NB if the Producer is, or is connected with, the distributor then the BBC must approve the distribution commission)
  3. a clear demonstration of how the net revenue position on each title has been calculated (see Definitions for "Net Revenue" & clause 16.5.2 in the BBC's General Terms, see the Terms of Trade page to download) and
  4. a final sum for any balance that may now be due to the BBC.

Please note that any recoupments deducted, before you account for the BBC's share, must have been agreed in the special terms of your production agreement.

  • Your royalty statement should be accompanied by a copy of the relevant distributor's statement(s).
  • The BBC has a right to audit distribution revenues under General Term 16.5.4.

Document Checklist

For standard templates and forms referred to in this Guide please see the downloads listed on the right hand side of the page. You can find the BBC Policies and Guidelines with which you must comply in the Compliance and Policy section.

Beware that issues on the progress reports or delays in contract signature or the confirmation of key agreements may mean delays in payment of cashflow if clarification is not received.

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