BBC’s “Songs of Praise”, “Horizons” head to tender

The UK pubcaster will put the first of its returning network TV series out to tender this fall as it moves forward with its "compete or compare" strategy.
September 20, 2016

The BBC is putting the first of its returning network television series out to tender as it moves forward with a 2014 plan 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 will also be invited to pitch ideas for doc series Horizon – with bundles of commissions based on the strength of their proposals, according to the BBC.

The move follows a joint agreement between the BBC and Pact struck in December 2015 that set out a framework intended to strengthen the UK production sector and pave the way for the creation of a BBC production arm, 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.

Further titles will be announced for future tenders during 2017. In the meantime, the BBC is expected to unveil more details on the tendering process in a meeting with UK producers scheduled to take place Sept. 21.

Last week, the British government announced it will disclose the salaries of on-air BBC talent making more than £150,000 (US$198,000) — another move connected to the pubcaster’s new charter, which outlines how the corporation will be run between 2017 and 2027. Among the 109 TV and radio hosts and performers that would be expected to declare their salaries are former Top Gear host Chris Evans, sportscaster Gary Lineker, talk show host Graham Norton and Strictly Come Dancing host Claudia Winkleman.

On Sept. 13, Rona Fairhead, chair of the BBC Trust, announced she would not compete for the new chair role and will resign her post earlier than expected. Initially, she had agreed to stay on through 2018 but will now stand down when the Trust is abolished in 2017.



About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.