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24 September 2014
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Creative Future - detailed press briefing


Category: BBC; New Media

Date: 25.04.2006
Printable version


Background

 

Creative Future has been an extensive cross-media, audience-focussed project involving hundreds of people across the BBC and key external partners.

 

Its aim - to produce an editorial blueprint for BBC programmes, content and services for the emerging on-demand world over the next BBC Charter period.

 

This isn't about new services but a fundamental look at the creative challenges ahead with audiences in an on-demand environment that goes beyond current broadcasting models.

 

Director-General Mark Thompson said at the launch of Creative Future last year: "This project is designed to turn the purposes and objectives we set out in our Charter manifesto Building Public Value into an inspiring editorial strategy.

 

"We need to meet - and exceed - audiences' rapidly changing expectations, make difficult choices and take calculated risks, while maintaining our commitment to excellence and innovation."

 

Ten cross divisional teams have been working on the project for the last year.

 

Their findings and recommendations were presented to BBC staff in the UK and internationally on 25 April 2006 who emphasised that this was just the beginning of creative renewal for the on-demand age.

 

The Workstreams: findings and recommendations

 

The work from the Audiences and Beyond Broadcast teams (see below) influenced all the other genre areas.

 

Audiences - led by Tim Davie, Director of Marketing, Communications and Audiences

 

  • Changing demographics - more elderly population, single person households, growth in non-traditional families etc - are changing consumption
  • People experience electronic media at 1ft, 3ft and 10 ft - the palm screen, the PC screen and the sofa screen - all bringing different expectations and experiences, from the very personal to shared moments
  • Ambient media, audio and gaming are all having an impact
  • Some audiences - and they don't fit any stereotypes - feel increasingly disconnected with the BBC and want content more relevant to their lives
  • A deeper understanding of what 'value' means to audiences is underway
  • The team recommended: better understanding of audience diversity and needs; develop new kinds or relationships and insights using Customer Relationship Management principles; establish new audience measures and systems that look at reach across all platforms. These recommendations are now being implemented.

 

Beyond Broadcast - led by Richard Deverell, Controller, BBC Children's

 

  • On-demand will be the third age of broadcasting and the second phase of digital. The first age was linear channels and limited choice. The second was linear channels but far greater choice - more of the same. The third gives the audience far greater control, personalisation and interaction. It will require fundamental change in what the BBC commissions and provides in content and services and how it distributes them.
  • We'll be in a hybrid world until at least 2012 but it's changing fast, as is the face of the competition - gaming and other providers of rich content.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Maximise public value in some genres by producing fewer, more highly valued programmes with high production values, investment and a longer shelf life
  • Start to build the on-demand portfolio through pilots, digitising content and making relevant parts of the archive available, and developing BBC iPlayer (MyBBCPlayer)
  • Develop new navigation tools and ways to help people find content
  • Initiate a single pan-BBC rights strategy and digital rights management system
  • Ensure greater understanding of the importance of technology to future success and integrate technologists into the creative process
  • Improve innovation and product development through audience insight and cross-disciplinary working - test, learn, move on
  • Pilot 360 degree commissioning which would give one team responsibility for all aspects of an idea on all platforms - linear broadcast, interactive, on demand, mobile applications
  • Build talent and improve relations with suppliers and potential partners

 

Journalism - led by Mark Byford, Deputy Director-General

 

  • In a growing world of opinionated news, partiality, blogging and citizen journalism, the BBC must provide the best journalism in the world, rooted in its enduring values of accuracy, impartiality and independence
  • Audiences want change. They say trust is as much about responsiveness as it is about reliability. They recognise the difference between an unfolding story and a programme of record like the 10 o'clock news

 

Recommendations include:

  • Shift energy and resource to continuous news
  • BBC News 24 becomes the centre of the TV operation with key talent moving to the channel
  • BBC News 24 becomes the place to break stories and follow unfolding stories
  • Develop the on-demand offer in News with more convenience and better search and video/audio offerings
  • Using existing content, develop outstanding services for mobiles and portable devices
  • Improve the quality and depth of Sport and Entertainment journalism
  • Find new ways of shaping the BBC's current affairs output
  • Bringing Journalism in to every secondary school in the UK through initiatives like Schools Question Time

 

Music - led by Jenny Abramsky, Director of Radio & Music

 

New technologies have transformed the music industry and music consumption. Personalisation and immediacy are going to be critical - on broadband, mobile and podcasting. The BBC has, through its services and its independence, underpinned the UK's music scene for decades, commissioning and promoting new music. The challenge now is to ensure all activity across the organisation is joined up as a major force for discovering, promoting, communicating and supporting music in all its forms.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Have one BBC music strategy under the Director of Radio & Music
  • Moving TV Music Entertainment and commissioning into Radio & Music alongside TV classical music
  • Establish the place of music on BBC TV from a portfolio perspective and revitalise coverage of contemporary music for a mainstream audience on BBC ONE
  • Develop pan-BBC music-based events with real impact with existing and new audiences (such as the BBC Electric Proms or Flashmob: The Opera)
  • Nurture new mainstream music presenters
  • Develop a BBC music broadband proposition and portal
  • Make music learning central to the strategy with more ambitious projects
  • Develop BBC THREE, Radio 1 and 1Xtra as major multi-platform music brands
  • Enable people to create their own virtual radio channels out of the wealth of our existing output, channels reflecting their own personal tastes
  • Across the BBC, support new artists, new music and UK music so that the BBC becomes the destination for unsigned bands and young musicians to turn to for support

 

Sport - led by Roger Mosey, Director of Sport

 

Sport touches many people. It drives interactivity, broadband and online activity. The BBC needs to make Sport accessible across all platforms, and through flexible scheduling and tone of presentation.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Harness the whole BBC - local and national - to make the most of big events like the World Cup and the Olympics
  • Offer audiences clarity and consistency via a BBC Sport broadband portal - a 24/7 service which would bring together live video and audio, along with sports journalism and text services, allowing people to tap in to their own favourite sports and teams
  • Take a multi-layered approach to the range of sport on offer, major events remaining on the conventional TV and radio channels, but supplemented by some sport delivered only for interactive TV and broadband - and underpinned by user-generated content reflecting people's passions
  • Appoint a specialist Sport Editor as the first step to raising the profile of the genre and create a flagship Sports News programme on BBC Television
  • Highlights should always be available on-demand and tailored to audience needs
  • We will schedule more flexibly so sports events reach the largest possible audiences at times that suit them
  • And we will, over time, phase out the Grandstand brand because it no longer punches through in this multi-channel multimedia world and we believe we can achieve greater impact for BBC Sport without it
  • Sport should build partnerships with other creative areas of the BBC - including links with Entertainment and Comedy, and tie-ins with learning projects and social action

 

Children's and Teens - led by Andy Parfitt, Controller Radio 1/1Xtra

 

This group represents the audiences of tomorrow and has special requirements. But development patterns for 0-16s have not changed that much and they still like to balance the new with the familiar. What has changed is the reality of technology in their lives. They are driven by active media, participating, creating, connecting. The BBC is not that relevant to teenagers and needs to really re-think how it reconnects.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Strengthen the Brand Portfolio by tight focus on age groups. For 0-16s, a BBC portfolio of four brands: CBeebies, CBBC, a new Teen Offer and BBC Jam for all learning content
  • Stretch CBeebies up to age six and provide content for parents
  • Focus CBBC as a childhood brand for 7-11s
  • Create a lead BBC teen offer for 12-16s including a portal, high quality, long-running drama, comedy and music, drawing on the strengths of Radio 1, 1Xtra, and BBC THREE
  • Align children's radio under the CBeebies and CBBC brands and, in time, move the production teams in Children's too
  • Move all learning content under one brand, BBC Jam
  • Move quickly to multi-platform, digital brands
  • Improve the BBC's user-generated content provision for these age groups
  • Deliver a BBC gaming position for under-16s

 

Drama - led by Emma Swain, Commissioning Editor, Specialist Factual

 

Stories are central to human culture and audiences want more than facts. They want more engagement through intense emotions and experiences. Drama is pivotal in the BBC's relationship with its audiences. Computer games, live sport, music and reality TV all now offer competing dramas. Economic, social and cultural trends will also change the nature of the BBC's drama offering.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Pilot and develop dramas across platforms that generate intense experiences for different audiences
  • Commission at least four major radio landmark dramas for Radio 4 a year
  • Reduce the number of individual titles broadcast and consolidate the offer, investing in longer runs of series, growing value through on-demand and multiple transmission whilst retaining range and breadth
  • Maintain the BBC's cultural legacy by nurturing and empowering writers. This will require more investment in training and new production models such as writer-producer or team-writing
  • Cherish and invest in titles like EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City that speak to the broadest audiences

 

Entertainment and Factual Formats - led by John Willis, Director, Factual and Learning

 

Entertainment is a founding pillar of the BBC and is at the heart of the White Paper on the new BBC Charter. But new technologies are bringing new forms of entertainment - gaming and social networking. The BBC needs to modernise and find the hits of the future.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Increase the on-air presence/impact of entertainment through consistent time slots, dates and stripping of shows
  • Modernise our tone and broaden the marketing mix to reach those audiences not currently engaging with or finding our content
  • Experiment with new content and formats for new platforms
  • Ensure entertainment is seen as core public service
  • Seed future success by investing in off-air pilots, using our platforms to test and launch new ideas and nurturing the talent of the future

 

Comedy - led by Jana Bennett, Director of Television

 

Comedy is at the heart of national identity. It is high risk, high cost and is emerging in new places like Ricky Gervais' podcasts.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Focus on developing popular hits for BBC ONE, with more mainstream comedy on BBC TWO and increased piloting - from four to 12 a year for BBC ONE
  • Develop Comedy Drama on BBC ONE and more ambitious mainstream comedy on radio
  • Kick-start the sitcom engine by transforming the look and tone of popular sitcom, by increasing production values and investing in development
  • Make the BBC portfolio work better by improving the creative comedy pipeline and supply of talent and programmes across the radio and TV portfolio, including nations and regions
  • Develop opportunities for new talent to reach audiences on all platforms, and improve training and support for comedy writers and directors
  • Ensure the continuing strength of in-house production and hold an annual BBC Comedy Day with all partners
  • Develop a rights strategy to maximise chances for audiences to enjoy BBC comedy, public service and commercial
  • Pioneer user-generated comedy and material for new platforms, particularly mobile
  • Re-launch bbc.co.uk/comedy to reflect all BBC comedy and include more external linking

 

Knowledge Building - led by Pat Loughrey, Director, Nations and Regions

 

Knowledge Building is one of the BBC's core purposes. It's the content that comes in many guises - factual, specialist factual, learning, documentaries. It helps people explore their world and their interests, to learn more about it, interrogate and celebrate it.

 

Using the archive, appropriate partners and compelling new navigation ideas, the BBC could create a living bank of knowledge to be linked, clipped, rediscovered and built in to bigger ideas.

 

The BBC should become a generator - as well as a communicator - of knowledge as people make their own observations and contributions and share them with others. The term 'archive' could forever become obsolete.

 

Recommendations include:

  • Knowledge and exploration could become as big an offer from the BBC as its News and Journalism
  • Rebalance the Knowledge Building portfolio to increase its relevance, responsiveness and modernity, increasing development towards under-served audiences and maximising ideas which have real scale and impact like Planet Earth and Super Volcano
  • Develop cross-platform strategies and commissioning in key areas, eg science, history, arts, religion, leisure, health and technology
  • Make all the BBC's Knowledge Building content findable and link it to all other relevant BBC content
  • Strengthen and enrich BBC Knowledge Building with user generated content adding real depth to existing material
  • Pilot Eyewitness - History, enabling people to click on a grid covering the last 100 years and contribute their own thoughts, observations and stories from any given day in the last century.

 

Consistent themes across all Workstreams

 

Five main themes emerged from the Creative Future work, alongside specific recommendations as well as initiatives that will enable ideas to come alive faster and better:

 

The second wave of digital

 

Wave One was about more of the same linear broadcasting and channels. Wave Two means fundamentally re-thinking how the BBC conceives, commissions, produces packages and distributes content to audiences.

 

This includes cross-platform content commissioning, ie for one project like Doctor Who on BBC ONE, online, broadband or mobile as well as building on really big ideas and events while meeting specialist audience interests via online and broadband.

 

By commissioning projects in the round and integrating key output areas into more coherent propositions the aim is to achieve more impact with audiences. This will mean following BBC News' multi-platform example in Sport, Music, Children's and Knowledge Building content.

 

Stronger emotional connections

 

Audiences want more than facts. They want serious entertainment, to feel emotionally connected and to be moved, particularly through drama, entertainment and comedy, but also through factual programmes like Planet Earth or The Apprentice.

 

Search and find

 

On-demand means content has to have proper labelling (metadata) or it will be hard to find and of no long-term value to audiences.

 

Better search tools, branding and navigation are essential, as are clear portals for big content areas like News, Sport, Music, Natural History, Leisure and Health.

 

The young

 

The audiences of tomorrow need to receive more value from the BBC. The BBC needs to think how it engages them and reflects their lives better through content that more focused and relevant.

 

Active audiences

 

Increasingly, audiences of all ages not only want the choice of what to watch and listen to when they want, they also expect to take part, debate, create and control - as partners with the BBC and in their own communities - real or virtual.

 

Interactivity and user-generated content are increasingly important stimuli for the creative process.

 

What will enable us to deliver this?

 

  • Feeding more audience insights and research into the creative process and developing new cross-platform audiences measurements
  • Putting technology and its potential at the heart of creative thinking
  • Developing a pan-BBC rights strategy
  • Launching a more powerful search tool as bbc.co.uk is upgraded
  • Cracking metadata/labelling as a priority
  • Ensuring that the BBC is building on changes already underway and is ready to make the Creative Future recommendations real through more collaboration and lateral ways of working

 

BBC Press Office

 

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Category: BBC; New Media

Date: 25.04.2006
Printable version

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