BBC Studios will ditch programming quota system

Around 80% of the BBC’s overall slate will be open to tender under plans for new in-house production arm BBC Studios, the UK’s pubcaster has revealed.

The news came in full proposals that revealed BBC Studios would be a wholly-owned but independently-operated commercial subsidiary of the BBC Group

The current commissioning quota mechanism, the Window of Creative Competition (WoCC) will be scrapped in favour a new system the BBC says is designed “grow the level of competition in the market”.

Currently, the BBC sources 50% of its programme hours in-house, with 25% guaranteed for qualifying indies and 25% open to tender through the WoCC. According to in-house figures, the BBC sourced 56% in-house last year, with the 44% from the wider market representing a spend of more than £400 million.

The BBC believes the current system has become out-dated following the flurry of merges and acquisitions in the global independent production business, which now sees the likes of Endemol Shine Group and All3Media under foreign control. These changes have made systems harder to operated, the pubcaster says.

“The changing market is putting direct pressure on the existing regulatory framework,” the BBC wrote in its proposals. This was created for a very different UK market, to support an emerging independent production sector.

“Today we see a much more mature market with thriving independent producers, and the new presence of large, vertically-integrated global studios in the market, as well as global digital video services.”

This comes a day after indie producers body PACT slammed a planned government review into terms of trade, which currently allow producers to retain much of the IP they create.

Furthermore, the creation of BBC Studios was necessary to the BBC’s standing on the international market, the Corporation claimed.

“UK broadcasters such as ITV and US networks such as 21st Century Fox are responding to the changing market by growing their share of commissioning spend on in-house production, as well as acquiring new production assets,” it wrote.

“The BBC cannot hope to remain a global player, bringing UK creativity to the world, without maintaining BBC production as a stable source of content.”

BBC North boss Peter Salmon will lead BBC Studios, which will produce drama, factual and entertainment programming. Children’s TV and sport will remain within the BBC.

Read the full ‘BBC Studios” Strengthening the BBC’s role in the creative industries’ report here.