The BBC Trust has formally approved the launch of BBC Studios as a commercial entity, paving the way for the TV production arm to make programs for other broadcasters and channels.
The move to enable BBC Studios to compete in the market “will help the production teams to attract and retain the best creative talent and ensure that the BBC continues to be the world’s greatest program maker,” according to a BBC statement.
Under an agreement reached earlier with UK independent producers’ association Pact, BBC to make “a minimum amount of 40% of the in-house guarantee” available to outside competition within two years.
Earlier this year, the BBC put the first of its returning network television series out to tender as it moved forward plans to open up more network commissions under the UK pubcaster’s “compete or compare” strategy.
The first titles that will be made available to external producers are the long-running religion series Songs of Praise (pictured), sports quiz show A Question of Sport, and drama Holby City.
Suppliers were also invited to pitch ideas for doc series Horizon.
The move follows a joint agreement between the BBC and UK Pact struck in December 2015 that set out a framework intended to strengthen the UK production sector and pave the way for the creation BBC Studios. The agreement specifically sets out that the pubcaster should make “a minimum amount of 40% of the in-house guarantee” available to outside competition within two years of when permission is granted for BBC Studios by the Charter review process.
The BBC is expected to reach 100% competition (with the exception of news and news-related current affairs) over the next 11 years. In return, BBC Studios is able to operate commercially and make programs for anyone, including competing with indie producers for the BBC-tendered shows
BBC Studios is now slated to launch as a wholly owned subsidiary in April 2017. It will remain committed to supporting the pubcaster’s public service mission and profits will return to the BBC Group, reps for the broadcaster stated.
“BBC Studios has so much to offer creatively, both to broadcasters and the incredible range of talent who work with us. We are responsible for many of the U.K.’s biggest and boldest shows and the breadth of our portfolio, combined with our BBC editorial values and over 50 years heritage, make us very unique,” says Mark Linsey, director BBC Studios, in a statement. “We have a huge amount of ambition and are excited about continuing our bedrock relationship with the BBC while taking our creative ideas to new audiences.”