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October 2017
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  • The Facilities 50
    Jon Creamer launches Televisual's 30th exclusive annual Facilities 50 survey featuring the top post production houses in the UK and 52 pages of analysis of the sector
  • Interview: Grant Mansfield
    Hiring top talent and investing heavily in development have been key to growing his Bristol indie Plimsoll Productions, says founder Grant Mansfield
  • The clear view: lenses
    What ever genre you work in, you need to be lens savvy. Here three DoPs guide us through the lens market, picking out the models they like to use in drama and factual
  • Over the top
    The growth of Netflix and Amazon is proving a boon for UK indies, but broadcasters are starting to panic. Tim Dams reports
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Reports&
surveys

Production 100, 2014 Back to Reports & survey Listing

Which broadcasters do indies think are the best and hardest to deal with? Producers reveal their off the record toughts about how they are treated

The BBC
The reputations poll makes worrying reading for the BBC. By virtue of being the biggest commissioner, the BBC has often in the past been voted simultaneously the best and hardest broadcaster to deal with by the many indies that interact with it.
Not this year. More indies (42%) express a negative opinion about the corporation than usual, with indies voting the BBC the hardest broadcaster to deal with. And it falls behind ITV and Channel 4 in the best broadcaster stakes.

The Positive
“Trusts producers to deliver and doesn’t feel the need to put its stamp on productions just for the sake of it” “Still has the long game and other factors in mind rather than day one ratings” “The comedy department really gets behind ideas and make quick decisions” “Clear lines of communication with commissioners” “The business side is good to deal with, transparent and fair. They can be slow and a bit bureaucratic at times, but they do always try and help where they can” “Understands the pressures on indies; is responsive and supportive in the pitching process; and has very collaborative business affairs teams”

The Negative
“So many many layers and internal battles to contend with!” “The teams are too small, constant sense of flux and instability, lack of understanding of the indie culture” “Declining willingness to assist on high risk projects.  Slowness to respond when deals require a different approach to rights in order achieve tariff” “Slow responses, lack of understanding of indie timeframes and unfair competition from in-house” “Lack of connection between business affairs and editorial. Also the commissioning editors are too stretched to spend time on ideas and have to look upwards a lot” “They never reply, and are slow and arrogant” “Development nightmare, lack of decision making” “Lack of cohesion through finance and editorial together with an arbitrary approach to commercial activities” “Remains labyrinthine, slow moving, poor feedback, really hard work” “The amount of time it takes to negotiate large co-production contracts” “We have had  a number of very antagonistic negotiations where we have found business affairs to be extremely unreasonable” “Shifting development briefs and failing to respond to submitted developments. Out of touch with reality of cost of production.”“A black hole”

ITV
ITV’s stock with the indie community is clearly rising. Over the past two years, Televisual has noted indies providing increasingly positive feedback about the broadcaster – saying that ITV is quick, supportive and trusts them to deliver.

The Positive
“Quick decision making, a direct dialogue with key people at the top and they are refreshingly honest – they know what they want” “Understand the pressures on indies; responsive and supportive in pitching process; very collaborative business affairs teams” “Perhaps less opportunity but very straightforward”
“Lightening quick, let producers produce whilst they commission, brave and innovative and they pay properly (bit tardy but you get it!)” “The commissioning process is relatively streamlined and ITV work with indies to manage production budgets. They are good on marketing support” “Quick, fair, supportive, well-funded and run by some of the best TV execs in the UK” “Fairly quick decisions, clear brief” “Straight talking, confident and quick response times for commissioning. Tough on deals but at least you know where you stand” “Trust independent producers to get on and make the programmes they have commissioned”

The Negative
“Unclear commissioning strategy for drama. Feels like the department has lost its way since the departure of (much admired) commissioners Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes” “Narrow span of drama commissioned – too strong a focus on crime dramas”

Sky
Feedback about Sky is, on balance, pretty positive. It’s voted the second most improved broadcaster – and positive comments tend to outweigh the negative.

The Positive
“Always swift and efficient to deal with and doesn’t interfere creatively.  Excellent marketing team who really put time and effort in launching new shows” “Prepared to pay the right price for content if they like it” “Responsive, generous, budgets not squeezed unreasonably… just a shame about its terms of trade!” “Commercial, flexible and fast” “Professional in its dealings with us” “Clear commissioning process, editorially trusting”

The Negative
“It takes a long time to get a meeting in, and they are very slow to respond” “Pretty anal”

Channel 4
Channel 4 tends to divide indies. Many complain of delays in decision making and say the commissioners have no real power. But it is voted the most improved broadcaster (“It couldn’t get any worse,” joked one indie), and there’s certainly appreciation for C4’s plan to engage with a greater diversity of production companies.

The Positive
“Jay Hunt is keen to widen the production supply base and is making Channel 4 more accessible to all independent producers.” “For its continued and dedicated commitment to the Nations (especially through the sterling work of the Alpha Fund)” “Receptive, quick to respond and little hierarchy” “Good at funding development. Can also be very supportive if it gets behind an idea” “Cross department engagement in programme making from commissioning, press, finance and legal” “Much more direct and seems more respectful and aware of the challenges indies face”

The Negative
“Unclear briefs from commissioners, complex politics in their teams, a fear culture inhibits risk or innovation” “C4 continues to have a very close involvement in the production process that often restricts and at times hinders the production schedule and budget. Editorial approach less of a partnership and mostly led by them” “It is always very slow to get decisions and genre commissioners have no real power” “Decision making process on commissioning is unpredictable and slow.  Business affairs can be slow” “Seems to be a bit disorganised and I feel the commissioners are not able to make decisions as they used to” “Protracted decision making. Commissioners always referring up. Micro managing” “Non flexible approach to deals” “No clue or interest in the challenges indies have. Commissioners give misleading, timewasting steers, micromanagement coming from the very top, and late in the day changes of mind”

Channel 5
C5 is liked for its speedy decision making, but viewed as difficult because of its low budgets. There’s hope, however, that things may improve now that Viacom has taken over the business.

The Positive
“C5 has improved considerably” “Immediate decisions, least amount of meddling, good business affairs” “You can hear the sigh of relief internally at the impending change of management” “Ben Frow is a no bullshit creative who puts his money where his mouth is (or Group M money anyway)…”

The Negative
“It’s a pain that C5 doesn’t cash flow” “The license fees it pays and its terms are ludicrous. Expect to change with recent Viacom acquisition”

Other Channels
UKTV  “Great bouquet of channels with programming with a real appetite for new business models” “Professional in their dealings with us” “Looking to do business” “Impenetrable chain of command, slow decision making and funding”

Food Network  “Trusts us to deliver good programmes on time to budget”

Nickelodeon  “Straightforward, moves quickly and they are a pleasure to deal with as a team. They make a very positive contribution to the production”

Discovery  “Good budgets, short reporting lines and good people” “Very helpful production team. Contracting swift and staff pleasant to deal with. Creative commissioning team” “An expectation of over delivery, difficulty in agreeing to rights retention and extensive, non-negotiable (and non applicable) deliverables”

Nat Geo  “Simple to deal with”

London Live  “Extremely youthful and in tune with the changing culture and vibe here in London. It has challenging budgets, but compensates with sponsorship deals.”


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