Commissioning executives from the BBC, A+E Networks UK, UKTV and Al Jazeera English drilled down into the programming they are looking for and revealed their working budgets at a Sheffield Doc/Fest session yesterday (June 14).
Flora Gregory, editor of the ‘Witness’ strand for Al Jazeera English, called out for European stories, because the channel doesn’t have enough. ‘Witness’ has a 25- and 48-minute slot, and Gregory said that she was looking for stories from the ground, and from local voices.
Meanwhile, Rachel Job, head of acquisitions and commissioning for History and Military History for A+E Networks UK, is on the look-out for ‘artefactual’ or object-based series.
She spends £35,000 to £45,000 (US$54,300 to $69,800) per hour, while specials run to £150,000 an hour. Job is only looking for two specials at the moment, and they have to be rooted in core history and be accessible, with the format open to character-driven specials or presenter-led.
Speaking mostly of the Watch and Dave channels, UKTV’s senior commissioning editor Richard Watsham said that Watch is in its infancy and is still being shaped. He is looking for ob-doc series that are escapist and fantastic.
For the comedy-focused channel Dave, Watsham is looking for factual series – such as the upcoming Bush Pilots series – for the 8 p.m. slot, and comedy docs for 9 p.m. For the earlier primetime slot, the spend is £60,000 to £70,000 per hour, while the later slot gets more money. For Watch, the budget is £120,000 to £130,000 an hour.
“I’m keen to stretch what Dave does but stay true,” he said, adding that there is a push for factual at the net.
Elsewhere, for the BBC’s current affairs division, Clive Edwards said he spends £120,000 to £130,000 an hour on content. “If you can find a trend surfacing among young people before it is common to everyone one,” said Edwards, then he will want a program about it.