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BBC overhauls factual commissioning department

BBC overhauls factual commissioning department
Staff Reporter
23 January 2015

The BBC is restructuring its factual commissioning division in a cost saving move that will trim the number of commissioning heads to six.

Four commissioning heads - Aaqil Ahmed, Sam Bickley, Martin Davidson and Clive Edwards - will have their roles closed and are in a consultation process.

The restructure was announced to BBC staff yesterday by factual commissioning controller Emma Swain.

She said there will be six commissioning heads in the new structure: Head of Science, Business, History & Religion (Specialist Factual); Head of Formats, Features & Events; Head of Documentaries, Current Affairs & BBC 3; Head of Specialist Features & Natural History; Head of Arts; and Head of Music.

The department currently has eight full time commissioning heads, and one part-time commissioning head.

Sam Bickley’s job as head of commissioning for features and documentaries for BBC3 will be closed. So too will Martin Davidson’s job as head of commissioning for history and business and Clive Edwards’ job as head of commissioning for current affairs.

Aaqil Ahmed’s part-time role as head of religion commissioning is also to be closed. Ahmed also runs in-house religion production.

Three of the six new commissioning head jobs have already been filled.

Alison Kirkham, currently head of commissioning for factual features and formats for BBC1 and BBC2, becomes head of formats, features and events.

Mark Bell will remain head of arts, while Jan Younghusband will continue as head of music.

Bickley, Davidson, Edwards and Ahmed could chose to apply for the three remaining commissioning head roles: Head of Science, Business, History & Religion (Specialist Factual); Head of Documentaries, Current Affairs & BBC 3; and Head of Specialist Features & Natural History

Meanwhile, Tom McDonald, the acting head of science and natural history, and acting head of documentaries Maxine Watson will return to their old roles as commissioning editors.

BBC also plans to close three-and-a-half commissioning editor roles in the factual division. There are currently 11 commissioning editors.

But the number of executive producers in the unit will be increased from two to five.

Swain said: “There are a number of factors behind these proposals. We are required to deliver significant savings towards Television’s DQF target. In addition, we will be commissioning less hours, particularly on BBC3. Alongside this, there is intense competition for the very best ideas and this requires us to become much more creative and collaborative in the way we work. I want to shape a Factual Commissioning team with fewer leaders, clearer distinction between roles, greater alignment with Channels and external stakeholders and greater flexibility.”

She added: “In the new structure there will be fewer leaders with clearer accountability. The new model sees an increased focus on leadership and creativity and a clearer differentiation between commissioning and ideas development and delivery.”

All comments
Ian Zachary Whittingham
Ian Zachary Whittingham  | January 23, 2015
Again Had more haul overs than Kate Moss, Little acknowledge of what the under 50s public want ,little creativeness , major territories out in the world that can hit 4 hit

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