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Pact calls for more detail on BBC Studios proposal

Pact calls for more detail on BBC Studios proposal
News
Staff Reporter
21 October 2015

Producers’ trade body Pact has raised concerns about the proposals for BBC Studios after the government published its green paper on the future of the BBC.

Pact says it is “extremely concerned” that the BBC’s proposals on BBC Studios provide “no detail” about regulation of the new commercial production arm.

The BBC plans would mean its in house production arm, renamed BBC Studios, would be free to make programmes for rival broadcasters while at the same time the corporation would allow rival producers to compete for all of the BBC’s output.

However, existing production contracts for long running and high value shows such as Strictly and Eastenders would remain as BBC Studios productions. Pact argues that BBC Studios would effectively be guaranteed over £400m worth of business from a single buyer. “BBC Studios will face little if any risk in the market because unlike their competitors, the BBC has made clear that this level of business with BBC Studios will be indefinitely maintained until the BBC decide to cancel a contract, and only then consider these contracts to be open to competitive tendering,” said Pact.

Pact also said it would call for assurances that BBC Studios would not have an exclusive output deal with BBC Worldwide and that there would be “regular independent over-sight” of the relationship between both BBC Commissioning and BBC Studios, and BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide. It is also calling for assurances around “clear and transparent” BBC archive pricing.

Pact Chief Executive, John McVay, said: “Pact believes that it is crucial that BBC Studios is treated in exactly the same way as all of its commercial competitors by the BBC, and any difference in terms of preferential commissioning terms or information would constitute a breach of State Aid, and could have serious effects on the market.”
 
Pact is also calling for the specific 25% independent production quotas for BBC One and BBC Two to be retained in the next agreement. It says that “without a formal provision, we are concerned that the BBC would seek to fulfil its requirement on BBC Two commissions only, and that BBC Studios would likely become the main supplier on BBC One, where there are more long-running strands and generally higher commissioning budgets.”

Pact Chair, Laura Mansfield, said: “The BBC licence fee is a major contributor to the UK creative economy and we fully support it.  However, although we welcome any increase in competition, a 6% increase in contestable network spend would not be a big enough opportunity for the market to accept the disruption which the introduction of BBC Studios would create.
 
“Furthermore, in order for BBC Studios to be truly competitive, the BBC should put some of its long-running strands out to tender from day one as part of this process if it is approved.”
 


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