The BBC’s factual and learning team is downsizing. The cuts announced in May affecting 37 producer posts won’t impact overall spending on factual, however, as more of the department’s budget is being dedicated to independent doc commissions.
The boost in indie commissions is a good sign for UK doc-makers, but the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (pact) argues the BBC should go further. ‘At the moment, independent production companies only contribute about seven percent of the bbc’s factual programming,’ says pact ceo John McVay. In a submission to a government review of the bbc’s charter, the UK trade group wants the Beeb to meet a minimum level of 25% of total hours and budgets. While the 2003/04 annual report is not yet out, stats from the previous year point to more indie greenlights. In 2002/03 the bbc had first window rights to 1,528 hours of indie commissions at a cost of £320 million (us$562 million), up from 1,040 hours at £257 million ($450 million) the year before.