Cohen terms comments ‘disappoint indie TV sector’

The body that represents UK indie prodcos has slammed comments from the BBC’s Danny Cohen (pictured) in which he said the pubcaster was would seek to alter terms of trade for super indie groups.

Danny CohenThe CEO of Pact, John McVay, said Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, appeared to have “misunderstood” the benefits of the current terms of trade, which were established in 2003 and allowed indies to retain rights to their programming.

Cohen wants to have separate terms for small and mid-sized indies, and those merging to make massive global production giants.

“The current ways in which things operate, based on the current consolidation in the industry, are not fair for everyone,” Cohen told a committee of MPs yesterday.

He pointed to the merger of Endemol, Shine Group and Core Media Group as one of the reasons for the BBC’s position, claiming the enlarged group would have a turnover of £1.8 billion (US$3.1 billion).

JohnMcVay_NewMcVay countered, claiming: “Pact and the public service broadcasters negotiate terms of trade on a regular basis according to codes of practice approved by Ofcom, but broadcasters only need apply the terms of trade in dealings with qualifying independent producers.

“It is at the discretion of each PSB whether or not to offer terms of trade in their dealings with companies which are non-qualifying, i.e. [the] 25% or more owned by a company which has broadcasting interests in the UK.”

Last week, BBC director general Tony Hall said the BBC would seek to scrap its current commissioning quotas – known as the Window of Creative Competition – and allow BBC Productions to produce for rival broadcasters in a bid to reposition for an emerging production market that has been driven by major consolidation.

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