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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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BBC Vision to reinvest efficiency savings in Drama and Children's

Jana Bennett

Jana Bennett, Director, BBC Vision, announced today that investment in children's programmes would be increased by at least £25million across the next three years.

She made the announcement during a speech delivered at the BBC Vision Forum, an annual event for in-house and independent programme makers focusing on BBC Vision's creative and business priorities.

Jana Bennett said: "In response to a firm recommendation from the BBC Trust that we should strengthen our role as the cornerstone of home-produced children's output in the UK, I'm pleased to say that we've identified more funding for Children's – at least £25 million over three years – which we'll be formally discussing with the Trust.

"This additional funding, derived from efficiency savings, once again recognises the particular pressures facing this genre and it will be used to reinforce the creative strength of BBC Children's, and help the CBBC channel maintain its position."

Jana Bennett also confirmed that BBC Two's drama spend would increase by 50% over the next three years and that the channel would become the home for BBC Films, "to create a core of distinguished fiction on the channel".

She said: "This extra money has been found after a tough re-prioritisation of funds within Vision because … I believe the genre needs support.

"It will be targeted at distinctive, authored series that will continue the great tradition of BBC Two drama, with the aim of providing the next generation of television classics."

The Children's and Drama investment has been achieved through re-prioritisation across BBC Vision and by re-investing efficiencies that have already been made.

During her speech Jana Bennett laid out priority areas for her division over the next year including:

  • A new learning strategy to be led by the newly-appointed Controller of Learning Saul Nassé
  • The introduction of a Multiplatform Foundation Course for producers to develop skills in new technologies enabling them to enhance their own programme websites
  • The creation of four Vision Bursaries per year beginning in 2010. The bursaries will allow assistant producers or producers to step away from production to pursue groundbreaking ideas and to produce pilots that will air on broadband or TV

Speaking about creative risk, Jana Bennett said: "It's our duty to take more risks with new forms and ideas. To commission home-grown content for British audiences. To offer different windows on the world. To be committed to a wide range of genres and subjects – and not just those with guaranteed mass appeal.

"We can invest in tough investigative programming, new kinds of comedy, groundbreaking children's drama, without having to analyse the commercial return at every stage of development, commissioning and production. That is the privilege the licence fee gives us."

She added: "We used to think of Religion, Current Affairs and Music and Arts as the classic market failure genres – areas of output in which the BBC had a special responsibility.

"To those, we could now legitimately add Children's, Comedy, Specialist Factual and Drama. All these genres could be endangered in this tougher commercial world …

"It's therefore vital that BBC Vision continues to invest in range and quality content during the current downturn, so that afterwards there is still a healthy production sector to provide audiences with great British content."

Full transcript of the speech


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