The BBC has revealed a five-point plan designed to support the UK’s independent production sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, including doubling the investment in its ‘small indie’ fund.
The UK pubcaster said it was “committed to maintaining the creative health and viability of its supply base across the UK during the current disruption and challenges” caused by the virus.
The newly launched five-point plan is designed “to provide investment in purposeful activity and enable production companies to continue a pipeline of quality ideas and programmes, in both the short and long term,” the broadcaster said. The package of measures include:
Shows in production
The pubcaster said it will work with producers on current projects that have been suspended “to find supportive solutions wherever possible. This will include being flexible around delivery, and varying cash flow as appropriate on a title-by-title basis.”
Additional $1.2m for smallest indies
The previously announced small indie fund will have its investment doubled from £1m ($1.2m) to £2m, with the additional cash enabling the BBC to “increase the value of our investment in some cases and work with a larger number of companies who’ve already expressed an interest.” The focus will be on the smallest producers, those in the nations and regions or with diverse leadership, the broadcaster added. “We will identify and ringfence clear short/medium term development opportunities for this group and give them clear commissioning contacts.”
“We will inject additional development spend over the next few months to focus on both short and long term opportunities,” the BBC said, but did not reveal exact figures. Details will follow, the broadcaster added.
Expanding BBC Three role
Online only channel BBC Three is expanding its pilot scheme, which has already seen factual entertainment shows being produced for regional partners such as BBC Northern Ireland. The model will be extended to other areas of the UK in a variety of genres. “Following an open brief, shortlisted companies will receive development funding and in-depth online sessions with the BBC Three team,” the BBC said. “The best ideas will be piloted, as appropriate to the relevant genre, and at least one idea per Nation or Region will be commissioned.”
Adding up with archive spending
The broadcaster also said it would “increase investment in archive and acquisition rights” during the Covid-19 period in a bid to “broaden the range of content available for audiences to enjoy across our services.” Further details have not yet been given.
Charlotte Moore, director of content, said: “We recognise this is an incredibly challenging time for all of those working in the creative industry and especially the smaller independent production companies. We want to do what we can to keep creativity focused and thriving so that we can continue to bring audiences the high quality content that they expect. These measures demonstrate our long term commitment to sustaining the creative health of the industry, right across the UK.”
The BBC said all content divisions “will adopt a similar approach, with a particular focus on companies who are most vulnerable, but tailored to the needs and profile of their relevant production communities.”
Bal Samra, BBC group commercial director, added: “This is an unprecedented event, which is causing massive disruption in the market, for broadcasters, production companies, talent and freelancers. It’s at times like these that the creative industries need to pull together – to make sure the sector we return to at the end of the pandemic is as rich and vibrant as the one we have now.”
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