UK public broadcaster the BBC has unveiled a new package of support for small and emerging indies, including the ring fencing of £1m (US$1.3m) of development spend for prodcos with turnovers of less than £10m per year.
The scheme is designed to help boost the strength of UK production against growing global competition and producer consolidation, with a “strong focus” on diverse and out of London producers, the pubcaster said.
It added: “The BBC already commissions significantly more small producers than any other broadcaster and wants to sustain plurality of supply and support innovation in all its forms. This is a strategic priority for the BBC and these measures are designed to enhance support for small UK companies who have brilliant British stories to tell, and don’t have the support of big international corporate groups.”
Charlotte Moore, director of content, said: “We’ve listened to the sector and understand the pressures small indies face in this fast changing global landscape. Small indies are a vital part of the UK’s creative industry and crucially deliver content that speaks to British audiences. We recognise how valuable they are to the ecology and this additional support will enable them to compete more effectively.”
The measures announced include:
- Ring fencing £1m of development spend in a Small Indie Fund, to support small and emerging companies. Commissioners responsible for out of London will have priority access to this funding.
- Bespoke deal arrangements will be offered, shaped to match company needs. These will vary depending on the risk profile of the genre, company and the show, but could include tailored cash flow terms, shared risk arrangements agreed upfront to support more unpredictable productions, and to help secure third party investment.
- Tailored events to build stronger connections between emerging small companies and the BBC.
The funding will be awarded “on the strength of [production companies’] creative potential, with the Small Indie Fund investment targeted towards new and the smallest companies, including a special focus on diverse, out of London, and qualifying independent producers.”
The measures will be rolled out on a company-by-company basis and the BBC said it was encouraging producers to speak to their network commissioning and business contacts to discuss support.
Smaller producers were at the centre of discussions with the BBC during 2019 as the broadcaster looked to secure extended rights for its iPlayer service, with UK producer body Pact describing the organisation as employing “bullying and immoral” tactics against prodcos.