BBC names first shows in new competitive tendering plan

We are moving forward with our plans to deliver more competition for ideas in the marketplace. In turn, the Government agreed that BBC Studios will be a fully commercial operation able to make programmes for anyone and subject to the same rules as any commercial independent programme maker.Bal Samra, Managing Director, BBC Television and Commercial Director
Date: 20.09.2016     Last updated: 20.09.2016 at 12.10
The BBC today announced the first returning network television series to be put out to competitive tender, as part of its plan to open up more network commissions under its ‘Compete or Compare’ strategy.

The BBC will remove the in-house guarantee this month and begin the competitive tendering of returning series that are currently made by BBC Studios, inviting pitches from BBC Studios and independent producers.

The BBC will retain all Intellectual Property rights for the programmes put to tender, which will all continue to be shown on BBC television, but the tendering process will decide which supplier makes those series.

The move is the latest stage of the ‘Compete or Compare’ strategy launched by BBC Director-General Tony Hall in 2014, which underlined the BBC’s commitment to commission the best programmes for audiences, regardless of who makes them.

It follows a joint agreement between the BBC and PACT late last year that set out a framework to strengthen the UK production sector, in which the BBC agreed to release 40 percent of the existing in-house guarantee in BBC Studios genres to competition over the next two years, paving the way for the creation of BBC Studios.

The Government’s draft Charter has subsequently set a further obligation that the BBC reach 100 percent competition - except in news and news-related current affairs - by the end of the next Charter period.

The Government supports the BBC’s proposal to establish BBC Studios as a commercial operation, subject to regulatory approval and the delivery of full competition.

Programmes will be put out to tender in batches, to highlight the range of opportunities coming up and allow the market time to prepare pitches, but each programme will be individually tendered, with their own specific eligibility criteria and requirements. The titles being tendered will provide opportunities for a range of suppliers across the BBC’s Drama, Entertainment, Comedy and Factual slates.

The first batch will be put out to tender across the Autumn, with the first titles tendered in the next few weeks. These programmes have been chosen because they are approaching recommissioning decisions and their production schedules allow them to be put out to tender quickly.

The first titles that will be opened up to competitive tendering are A Question of Sport, Songs of Praise and Holby City.

As part of increased competition, suppliers will also be invited to pitch ideas for Horizon – with bundles of commissions based on the strength of their proposals. This creates an opportunity to increase the range of ideas for our science offer on BBC Two and strengthen science specialism in the sector.

The requirements for each tender will be communicated at the time of publication, with enough time for suppliers to be able to do appropriate research and preparation. The BBC will retain the copyright of these programmes and tenders will be offered on a production-for-hire-basis.

Bal Samra, Managing Director, BBC Television and Commercial Director, says: “We are moving forward with our plans to deliver more competition for ideas in the marketplace. In turn, the Government agreed that BBC Studios will be a fully commercial operation able to make programmes for anyone and subject to the same rules as any commercial independent programme maker. I believe the UK’s creative sector is the best in the world – the imagination, storytelling, insight, experience, craft expertise, and passion for quality is second to none. It is a big, bold move, but I think what we’re doing in generating this competition – with a strong independent sector and the creation of BBC studios - could make our industry even stronger.

“We are incredibly proud of all these titles and our decision to put them to tender in the first batch is a pragmatic one, so we can move quickly. These are BBC shows that will still be on BBC Channels and we will still own the rights. We have nurtured and cherished them over many years, our audiences love them and they are precious to us, but we hope the tendering process will offer an opportunity to test value for money and ensure we are delivering the very best programmes for viewers.”

Further titles will be announced for future tenders during 2017.

The BBC will set out more detail of its plans at a briefing for the industry on September 21.

Alongside the competitive tendering process, the BBC will be introducing a new commissioning framework to ensure parity for suppliers competing to produce content. This will include the removal of the in-house guarantee, parity of access to commissioners, equal access to audience information, a fair and neutral complaints process, and a consistent approach to pricing and cashflow between indies and in house. These new ways of working will be in place by the time the creative tendering begins.

JA

Notes to Editors

  • In December 2015, the BBC and PACT issued a joint statement that set out a proposed policy framework that would strengthen the UK production sector and bring substantial benefits in terms of opening up new commissioning opportunities to competition. The BBC agreed to release 40 percent of the existing in-house guarantee in Studios genres to competition over the next two years, as part of the agreement
  • The Government has proposed that the BBC reach 100 percent competition (except in news and news-related current affairs) by the end of the next Charter period, subject to the BBC Board identifying any exceptions on value for money grounds.
  • The Government has provided in-principle support for the BBC’s proposal to establish BBC Studios as a new commercial subsidiary that will operate in the market place on the same basis as any other production company. The BBC Trust is undertaking the regulatory approval process.
  • The competitive tendering process relates to network television commissioning in Drama, Comedy, Entertainment and Factual. Arrangements for locally commissioned programmes in the Nations, Childrens, Sport and Current Affairs will be phased and communicated separately.