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BBC Trust seeks views on production plans

Tony HallThe BBC Trust has launched an industry consultation on proposals to scrap current production quotas and bring BBC Production in line with independent prodcos.

The Trust, which governs the BBC, is probing how programme supply reaches the UK’s pubcaster. Yesterday it began a review and called for public views on future plans.

Currently, a mechanism called the Window of Creative Control (WoCC) means 50% of BBC shows are guaranteed to come from in-house producers, with 25% set aside for indies and another 25% up for tender.

However, last July BBC director general Tony Hall (pictured) said BBC Productions would be released to produce for rivals channels, while an extra £400 million (US$604 million) of commissions would be made available to indies to compete for.

His comments came a year ahead of review of the WoCC’s working this year. The mechanism was last reviewed in 2013.

Hall’s plans – described as the most radical in the BBC’s nine-decade history – came as a reaction to massive consolidation in the UK broadcast and production sectors.

Following his speech, the UK’s biggest producer, All3Media, was bought by Discovery Communications and Liberty Global, while Endemol and Shine Group merged to create Endemol Shine Group.

The BBC Trust has set out six draft principles that would apply to BBC Productions in future, though these are not “specifically” relating to Hall’s speech, it noted.

These are securing “high-quality and creative content across all genres”, providing value for money for BBC licence fee payers, using a “wide range of diversity” in programme supply, securing “sustainable” supply, retaining “sufficient commercial value and control of content rights” that deliver returns to both the BBC and viewers, and maintaining “appropriate separation between publicly funded BBC activity and its commercial services”.

The Trust is keen to glean if these are the right for all parties, whether current arrangements are working and how they could change, how targets can be achieved over the next decade, and whether certain genres and types of content – such as digital programming, for example – should be approached differently.

“What matters to audiences is that the best ideas and highest quality programmes get on air, regardless of who makes them,” said BBC Trustee Suzanna Taverne.

“It’s the right time to now take a broader look at what the best approach to content supply should be in future, taking account of all the changes we’ve seen in the production sector, so that the BBC can continue to deliver the very best for audiences and bring the next generation of Sherlocks, Strictlys and outstanding radio and online content.”