Who we are and how we commission
The information on this page covers the processes for BBC television commissioning. Visit the commissioning pages for Radio, Children's and Sport to find out more about their processes and priorities.
Visit the Online section of the commissioning site to find out more about pitching games, apps and digital technology ideas or editorial content for online.
Visit the delivery timeline for a complete breakdown of programme delivery requirements, the production handbook for information about all aspects of TV production and find further delivery and production contacts on the contacts page. See the How we do business page for the code of practice, business framework and information about the programme production agreement and commissioning specification.
Skip to the who's-who section below for a list of channel and genre commissioners.
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The BBC aims to commission distinctive world-class content in a fair and transparent way. The over-riding objective is to select the best ideas which deliver the biggest impact, the broadest range and the most value for our audiences.
The BBC is committed to working with a diverse range of producers right across the UK. Creative competition is at the heart of process and commissioners make decisions based on the strength of an idea, it’s fit with our editorial strategy and the supplier’s ability to deliver the show to screen.
The commissioning process outlined here is for independent production companies, BBC Studios and BBC in-house production teams making content for BBC television.
Members of the public not affiliated with an independent production company should visit the Ideas from the public page.
BBC television operates a genre based commissioning process. Ideas should be sent to the most relevant genre commissioning contact. If the idea matches their current commissioning priorities they may ask for further development, and at the right stage will discuss it with the most relevant channel controller. Final decisions are made collaboratively between genres and channels.
The BBC aims to make commissioning decisions as fast as possible: entering into a dynamic creative dialogue with producers whose ideas are in play. This dialogue is managed by the genre.
To make sure commissioning decisions match the BBCs commitments, there is an annual plan to deliver the BBC’s quotas and targets.
Access to commissioners
As the BBC receives a high volume of ideas, time with commissioners is prioritised based on the strength of submitted proposals.
Producers are expected to be up to speed with the commissioning priorities published on this site, so commissioners won’t hold one to one briefing meetings to discuss what they are looking for.
Every idea has different considerations, but generally BBC television aims to work to the following timescales:
- acknowledge receipt of new ideas submitted to BBC Pitch within one week.
- make an initial decision to reject an idea or take discussions further within six weeks of submission to BBC Pitch.
- aim to make a final decision to commission an idea within 20 weeks of submission to BBC Pitch* (unless the project is taken into paid development or part of a formal tender process where timelines will be specified).
- if a project is in paid development and the producer is waiting for a decision, producers will be kept updated on progress.
- following a commissioning decision, contract negotiation and completion will be undertaken as swiftly as possible.
*These timescales may need to be varied on individual ideas for project specific reasons (for example due to access or talent availability). The producer will be kept updated on progress and any necessary variations will be openly identified and discussed.
Commissioning teams regularly update their priorities on this site and producers can find information about the types of programmes being sought on the relevant genre page. Producers are expected to be familiar with this information before contacting the genre teams.
We also hold briefings for suppliers across the UK as relevant to each genre.
Find information about programme tariffs on the How we do business page.
Programme ideas for BBC television must be submitted to the relevant genre via the online proposal system BBC Pitch. Pitch helps the BBC comply with its commitments, manage proposals in one place and track the progress of individual ideas. Visit the Pitch page for information about requirements, how to register and user guides.
Ideas must be submitted to a specific genre and commissioner and contact names are listed on the genre commissioning pages.
The BBC can only commit to respond to fully developed ideas that are submitted through Pitch.
The BBC will treat all proposals as confidential.
Occasionally the BBC may issue an invitation to pitch or an invitation to tenderender for specific slots outside of the general commissioning process. These will be published on this website and include details on how to submit proposals and relevant timescales.
Copyright: The BBC is a signatory to the APC code of practice (PDF) which provides guidance around submission and handling of proposals for broadcast and online content. This code forms part of the BBC Pitch terms and conditions.
Members of the public not connected with an independent production company will not be able to submit programme ideas via BBC Pitch. Please visit the Ideas from the public page to find alternative ways to get in touch.
The BBC is committed to supporting the creative health of the UK production sector and achieving its public service ambitions. Where we feel it is necessary, and there is clear strategic benefit, we may offer additional support to production companies to help achieve those goals. Investments are tailored to the individual genre, business need and level of strategic priority. They are a contribution to the additional costs associated with change or sustainability, rather than replacing normal expectations from production budgets. They are accessible through the relevant genre head of business, on the recommendation of a commissioning editor.
This includes the following strategic objectives:
- To support the supply of distinctive, British ideas to the BBC from across the UK
- To strengthen production ecologies, talent and the creative pipeline outside London
- To maintain a range of supply in the UK enabling smaller producers to survive and grow
- To strengthen progress on diversity and representation both on and off screen
- To strengthen progress towards environmentally sustainable production in the UK
The BBC is for everyone, and to reflect our audience in its entirety diversity, both on and off screen, must be at the heart of everything we do.
Visit the Diversity page to find out how we work with producers and what we do, including the portrayal fund, the diversity and inclusion development fund, our requirements for new commissions and Diamond reporting.
Small independent producers are vital to the creative economy of the UK, building the next generation of talent and producing programmes with a rich range of stories and perspectives from across all four Nations. To ensure they thrive, we have a package of support for indies with strong creative potential and turnovers of less than £10million, designed to nurture and grow smaller UK companies. This is available for producers working with Network TV commissioning teams within BBC Content across drama, comedy, entertainment and factual.
Access to a ring-fenced £1million Small Indie Fund for talented small producers who can deliver to our strategy. The fund will be used for:
- tailored support packages to help companies strengthen and grow,
- fast-tracking for indies that show real promise, pairing them with a commissioning mentor, offering targeted commissioning opportunities and development deals.
- Commissioners responsible for out of London have priority access to funds to stimulate and strengthen ideas and new talent across the UK. Production companies with diverse leadership will also be prioritised.
Bespoke business deal arrangements, shaped to match company need. These will vary depending on the risk profile of the genre, company and show, but could include:
- Tailored cash flow terms, to help companies when they most need it,
- Shared risk arrangements agreed upfront, to support the uncertainties on more unpredictable productions,
- Help to secure 3rd party investment, if required.
Support is based on the strength of a producers creative potential and their ability to deliver to our strategy. It is granted on a company by company basis.
Producers are encouraged to speak to their usual commissioning and business contacts to discuss.
For companies without an existing commissioning contact, or for general enquiries about the range of support, please email Commissioning Supply Executive Lucy Willmore.
For new companies without existing relationships, we will hold events to introduce them to the BBC and commissioning teams.
The BBC is committed to supporting the creative sector across the UK, and in particular to strengthen the sustainability of production bases outside London.
Each of the Network television genre teams have defined commissioning leads for each nation and region to help support production companies based outside of London. These commissioners are listed in the who's who section below.
What we do
In BBC Content we work in partnership with producers and other organisations to achieve that where there is strategic benefit, for example business support for smaller companies, TRC’s Supersizer training programme and the IndieLab business development scheme. We have BBC partnership agreements with local screen agencies to support the strategic development of the sector in the nations.
We also have a package of support for small independent producers with a particualr focus on those in the nations and regions. Find out more about the small indie fund above.
To ensure our programmes tell the stories and reflect the lives of communities across all four nations we have a BBC Writersroom centre in each nation and a £2 million portrayal fund for programmes, ideas or partnerships that support our OOL strategy.
To bring greater clarity to how productions qualify as Out of London, we have worked with the other UK public service broadcasters to develop consistent guidance for producers on the practical application of Ofcom's OOL definitions. Download the out of London guidance (PDF).
Visit the compliance page to download the Ofcom Independent and Regional Production (I&RP) compliance form used for tracking OOL reporting requirements.
The BBC is committed to treating ideas fairly, transparently and on merit, regardless of which supplier submits them. Parity of access to information and resources is provided for producers. These commitments and how they will be achieved are set out in the Commissioning process framework (PDF).
The Business affairs charter governs the BBC’s business affairs dealings with producers. Download the Business affairs charter (PDF).
A competitive tender is where the BBC invites production companies to pitch for the opportunity to make an existing returning series on a ‘work for hire’ basis.
Since 2016 the BBC has been putting all new business out to competition, and tendering a number of returning network television series made by BBC Studios as part of its commitments in the BBC Charter. This sets out that 100% of relevant television content should be open to competition by the end of 2027.
In addition to tendered opportunities, hundreds of additional hours of programming have been made available for producers to pitch for as part of the normal commissioning process.
The tender opportunities will be open to any independent production company who meet the eligibility criteria and BBC Studios. These criteria will vary by programme, depending on the requirements of the show.
Tendered titles are chosen by BBC commissioners based on a range of considerations, taking into account production and transmission schedules, value for money and the opportunity for editorial review.
The BBC will retain the intellectual property rights (IP) to each of the programmes and will set out by title what the location requirements are.
The Commissioning process framework (PDF) sets out the commitments to ensure parity for suppliers competing to produce content.
- The invitation to tender for Sports Personality of the Year is available to download from the Sport commissioning page.
Find out more about the stages of the process and award criteria (PDF).
The commissioning process for BBC Children's is detailed on the Children's commissioning page.
The commissioning process for BBC Sport is detailed on the Sport commissioning page.
Local services in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions are commissioned locally and ideas should be submitted directly to them. Find contacts for local programmes on the specific commissioning websites for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the BBC England commissioning page.
If a producer is unhappy with how they or their idea has been treated they should raise this with the relevant genre in the first instance.
If the producer feels the concern about the commissioning process has not been fully addressed, and involves a breach of our published commitments, they have the opportunity to make a complaint.
All complaints should in the first instance, be sent to the BBC Content Complaints team as detailed in the three stage guidance document below.
If a producer has chosen not to use BBC Pitch to submit ideas this will be taken into consideration should a producer pursue a complaint against the BBC regarding the commissioning process.
Where the complaint is about the running of a competitive tender, how the BBC implements its Charter commitments or about BBC Studios and its relationship with BBC Public Service, these complaints will be referred to the Executive Complaints Unit for investigation.
Please note: users with complaints about other areas of the BBC should see the BBC Help and Feedback website for ways to get in touch.
The BBC is subject to a number of formal quotas and requirements which we need to deliver as a public service broadcaster. These include requirements on independent supply, levels of competition and levels of production in the Nations and regions. They are set out in Ofcom’s Operating Licence for the BBC (external website) and the BBC Charter and Framework Agreement (external website).
Download more detailed information about Quotas and targets (PDF).
As part of the BBCs commitment to transparency it publishes an annual supply report. This explains what the organisation has done to engage and support the UK production sector, how requirements have been delivered, and what the outcomes of the commissioning process are. This includes how interim competition requirement were met by December 2018.
Commissioning Supply Executive, BBC Content Commissioning Supply
Lucy is the central contact within the Commissioning Supply team for producers who need advice or guidance on working with BBC Content, especially smaller producers or those out of London. Lucy does not commission content and any ideas should be sent directly to commissioning teams via BBC Pitch. Members of the public and those unaffiliated with a production company should visit the Ideas from the public page for relevant contact information.
Head of Business, Commissioning Supply, BBC Content
Contact Helen for advice and support around BBC Content contestability and tenders.
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Director, BBC Content (and BBC One)
Charlotte is responsible for the creative vision across the portfolio of channels, BBC iPlayer and genres and has oversight of BBC Sport.
Nations and regions leads
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