Avanti Media and Nine Lives Media have beaten off incumbent BBC Studios to win the competitive tender for Songs of Praise.

Songs of Praise was the second title put out to competitive tender by the BBC, as part of its new Charter agreement which sees it put all existing BBC Studios network television output out to competition over the next 11 years.

Songs of Praise will be a co-production from Avanti Media and Nine Lives Media for the next three years.

Dan McGolpin, Controller of Programming and Daytime, said: “Their joint pitch built on the existing strengths of the series and they were successful against published criteria, including editorial innovation and value for money.  They bring years of experience in producing religious and non-religious music programmes; and they will retain the essential elements of the show that viewers value so highly."

BBC Studios won the first tender for A Question of Sport.

Mark Linsey, Director of BBC Studios: “We are disappointed with the outcome. Songs of Praise is a much-loved programme and we take great pride in how we’ve nurtured and developed the series over many years, which continues to delight audiences. We will be handing the programme over in good health. Our main priority now is supporting our people who are impacted by this.”

Broadcasting Union Bectu said the loss of Songs of Praise was a ‘bad start” for BBC Studios.

Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, said: “With in-house production losing this major production all of our worst fears are confirmed: programmes going outside the BBC, jobs being lost – the BBC has a lot of explaining to do about this process.”

About 30 BBC staff, all based at MediaCityUK in Salford, work on the programme plus more on fixed-term contracts. The transfer of staff under TUPE is set to take place in July.

Morrissey added: “We will be having a meeting with members on Monday 13 March. We will also be holding urgent meetings with the BBC and BBC Studios as well as beginning discussions with Avanti and Nine Lives for those staff who do want to transfer over.”

Avanti Media Joint CEO, and Songs of Praise Series Executive Producer, Emyr Afan, said: “I am delighted that Avanti, in partnership with Nine Lives Media, has been trusted with the Nation’s favourite and most important BBC religious series, Songs of Praise.  As producers of Welsh Songs of Praise (Dechrau Canu, Dechrau Canmol) and having produced three Songs of Praise specials for BBC One we understand and love the brand – it is a considerable honour and privilege.”
Nine Lives Media CEO and Executive Producer, Cat Lewis, said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity. We are thrilled to be partnering with Avanti to complement their significant ten years’ experience of producing Welsh Songs of Praise. Together we are really looking forward to creatively developing the programme over the next three years with the BBC.”

The other BBC titles that have been opened up to competitive tendering so far are Holby City and suppliers have also been invited to pitch ideas for Horizon – with bundles of commissions based on the strength of their proposals. Decisions will be announced over the next couple of months.

Further titles will be announced for future tenders during 2017.

Staff Reporter

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