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 downloads section on the right side of this page to find details of your contacts in the Rights and Business Affairs Teams, and how they will work with you in the Business Affairs Charter.
This website 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. The website, 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 contact the relevant BBC contact who you are with dealing in connection with your programme.
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:
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). If you join the BBC insurance scheme you will not normally be contractually required to hold errors and omissions insurance for any BBC transmission of the Programme (see section on New Media Deliverables below). However, you should note that the commissioning agreement contains an indemnity in favour of the BBC, including for your errors and omissions, and so Producers electing to use the BBC insurance scheme may decide to purchase cover in any event. The BBC has its own errors and omissions policy, which covers the BBC for its broadcast of the Programme.
It should be stressed that the BBC's errors and omissions coverage does not apply to any non BBC transmission of the Programme. Such coverage is your sole responsibility to provide to any third parties who require it.
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).
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 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).
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 "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 FastClear
2. Enter the username and password are as follows:
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 Fastclear 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).
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.
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.
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 Comissioning Exec 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).
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.
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:
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 email@example.com. For general guidance about promotional DVDs please contact the Preview DVDs unit on 020 8225 8463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For guidance on clips please contact the Clips Unit on 020 8576 8847 or email email@example.com.
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.
Listed below are the website addresses for the various 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.
For the most up-to-date versions of applicable BBC guidelines please access them via this Commissioning Website.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Independent production companies can make use of the wealth and resources from BBC Information and 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 Information and 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 Information and 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 Information & Archives department and how Information and Archives operates with independents is available on the information and archives page.
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). Please contact the relevant Genre Contact in the Who's Who for more information.
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.
As you probably know from the Producers Rights Agency, with effect from January 2005, PACT agreed a framework for reimbursement back to broadcasters in relation to the payment made to DUK in respect of repeats and secondary exploitation of programming. The reimbursement relates to the element of the payment made by the broadcaster in respect of secondary exploitation, not repeats. Full details of the re-charge framework is available in the downloads section.
Please note that:
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 the Producers Rights Agency on 020 7830 6600.
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:
Deductions from cashflow should be agreed at the earliest possible point. These would include:
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.
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.
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).
In terms of child production policies the BBC expects all companies who work with children and young people to have a general Child Protection Policy for their company and may ask to see a copy of this prior to commissioning your company.The purpose of asking to see your policy is for the BBC to be assured your company appears to have put adequate procedures in place around child protection to enable it to be compliant with legal requirements and editorial guidelines etc. In reviewing your policy, the BBC may provide feedback or make suggestions on how to improve your policy but this does not alter the position that all legal and contractual responsibility for compliance rests with your company.
Independent producers are not covered under the BBC's Child Protection Policy; however, guidance and advice is available from Pact to its members.
You need to familiarise yourself with the relevant and applicable laws when working with children for example 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.
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.
Here are some examples of the other issues you should consider relating to children:
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
hard copies to:
BBC Commercial Agency
BBC White City
London W12 7TS
All queries relating to royalty reporting should be directed to:
Senior Business Executive
BBC Commercial Agency
T. 0208 752 4035
F. 0208 752 6465
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.
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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