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BBC ordering less factual from indies

The BBC is commissioning less factual from indies and producing more in-house, according to annual figures released by the UK public broadcaster for its Window of Creative Competition (WoCC).
June 30, 2011

The BBC is commissioning less factual from indies and producing more in-house, according to annual figures released by the UK public broadcaster for its Window of Creative Competition (WoCC).

The broadcaster is mandated to produce half of its content in-house each year, with 25% produced by independent production companies, and the remaining 25% open to both internal and external competition, under what is known as the WoCC.

According to figures released for the financial year 2010/11, there was a marginal increase overall across all genres in the number of hours won by independent production companies for this window versus in-house, with indies accounting for 72% of the WoCC, up from 70% for 2009/10.

However, in factual, the amount of hours within the WoCC commissioned from indies decreased four percentage points – from 70% a year ago to 66% in 2010/11. The amount of factual produced by the BBC in-house under the WoCC increased from 30% to 34%.

The decrease marks the second consecutive year the BBC has produced more factual in-house – last year’s figure of 70% produced by indies was itself a significant decrease on the 2008/09 figure of 75%. In total, the amount produced by indies has dropped nine percentage points over two years.

In other genres, the WoCC balance shifted the other way: in 2010/11, the BBC commissioned 80% of entertainment programming from indies, up a considerable 16 percentage points from 64% the year prior.

Commenting on the figures released, BBC Vision operations director Bal Samra said: “Over the past four years we’ve seen movements in individual genres. This is how it should be and demonstrates the success of the WoCC in inspiring the best for all audiences.”

BBC Vision director George Entwistle added: “The WoCC was set up to stimulate creativity and every year we see that demonstrated through healthy competition in each of the genres.

“As one of the key ways the BBC continues to deliver high quality programs for its audience from both in-house production and the independent sector, the WoCC continues to do a very important job.”

Last year the BBC worked with a total of 305 independent production companies across the UK. Recent in-house efforts for the Corporation have included Lord Sugar Tackles Football and Wonders of the Solar System with Brian Cox, the latter of which picked up a Peabody Award last month.

The news comes after the BBC earlier this week confirmed Emma Swain’s promotion to full-time controller of Knowledge commissioning, charged with devising and leading the factual strategy for the broadcaster.

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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