April 5, 2020 |


BBC moves to protect indie sector

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The BBC has unveiled a five-step plan to help maintain the health of the indie production sector during the coronavirus crisis.

Charlotte Moore

The UK has been on lockdown for more than a fortnight, with original production on hold across the board.

The country’s pubcaster this morning announced it was “committed to maintaining the creative health and viability of its supply base across the UK during the current disruption and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The five-point plan includes a “company-centric approach to impacted productions,” with the pubcaster promising to work closely with prodcos on current projects that have been disrupted and find solutions where possible. This will include flexibility on delivery dates and varying cash flow as appropriate on a title-by-title bases.

It is also doubling its funding for the previously announced Small Indie Fund from £1m (US$1.23m) to £2m this year. The increase will allow it to work with a larger number of companies, focusing particularly on the smallest outfits and those in the nations and regions or with diverse leadership.

There will be additional spend in development over the next few months, to be communicated to companies over the next few weeks via the BBC website and online briefings.

Online-only channel BBC3’s existing partnership with BBC Northern Ireland & Northern Ireland Screen, which has seen producers secure factual entertainment pilots for the channel, will be extended to cover other regions and genres.

Following an open brief, shortlisted companies will receive development funding and in-depth online sessions with the BBC3 team. The best ideas will be piloted, as appropriate to the relevant genre, and at least one idea per nation or region will be commissioned.

Finally, there will be an increased investment in archive and acquisition rights to broaden the range of content available to audiences.

Bal Samra, BBC Group commercial director, said: “This is an unprecedented event, which is causing massive disruption in the market for broadcasters, production companies, talent and freelancers.

“It’s at times like these that the creative industries need to pull together – to make sure the sector we return to at the end of the pandemic is as rich and vibrant as the one we have now. The BBC will contribute to that across the breadth of our output on TV, radio, children’s and nations and regions.”

Charlotte Moore, director of content, added: “We recognise this is an incredibly challenging time for all of those working in the creative industry and especially the smaller independent production companies. We want to do what we can to keep creativity focused and thriving so that we can continue to bring audiences the high-quality content they expect.

“These measures demonstrate our long-term commitment to sustaining the creative health of the industry, right across the UK.”

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