BBC Studios preps ‘culture & engagement plan’ after NAO report

Doctor Who

BBC Studios has said it plans to launch a three-year ‘culture and engagement plan’ as part of its response to yesterday’s National Audit Office (NAO) report on the UK public broadcasters commercial arm.

The NAO report said BBCS had failed to achieve commissioning targets from third-party producers following the creation of production arm BBC Studios in 2016 and its subsequent merger with sales arm BBC Worldwide in 2018.

BBCS was created to allow it to produce for the growing array of streamers and networks outside of the BBC network, but the NAO report said it had relied too heavily on existing shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear.

The NAO report stated that BBCS “has been less successful than planned in winning new commissions from the BBC and third parties to generate the IP which it can then exploit financially.

“In 2018-19, it generated production revenue of only £28m from such commissions, and its successful non-BBC commissions tended to be for small, one-off factual programmes, rather than large drama series.”

The report added that BBCS expected to be able to report “significant increases” in new IP created during 2019/20 and the organisation welcomed the NAO’s wider findings.

“We welcome the report’s findings that we had a clear rationale for creating BBC Studios, we planned well and the merger has got off to a good start following the launch of the new BBC Studios in April 2018,” BBCS said in a statement.

“In a time of unprecedented change across the global market, and with continued tough financial challenges, the success of BBC Studios is vital in helping the BBC deliver value for money for the licence fee payer as well as distributing and promoting British creativity worldwide.

“Since the merger, the company is also enjoying a strong reception for its creative work, including over 30 commissions secured from third parties including both UK broadcasters and global brands like Amazon, Apple and Netflix. It remains the UK’s most awarded production company with nearly 80 awards won in the last financial year across multiple genres.”

BBCS added that in response to NAO recommendations, it would launch its culture and engagement plan, which would focus on investing in the areas of inclusion and diversity and aim by 2023 “to have created a more integrated, collaborative culture, where creativity further flourishes, diverse individuals feel more included and both individual and company performance increases.”

BBCS said it would also “continue to review” the effectiveness of governance over BBC Studios and review more detailed non-financial performance metrics alongside its financial performance.

“We’re confident that this combination of financial and non-financial performance indicators, reporting and scrutiny of BBC Studios by Commercial Holdings Board will continue to ensure a robust value-for-money and governance framework for BBC Studios.”