BBC producers to make content for rival broadcasters under “competition revolution”

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC. Photo: Johan Persson
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BBC director general Tony Hall has unveiled plans to allow the Corporation’s in-house production teams to make content for rival broadcasters, as part of a shake-up he has described as a “competition revolution”.

Hall said he wanted to see “proper competition” in programme supply and to overturn the current system, which he said no longer worked.

At the moment, 25% of the BBC’s TV output is guaranteed to independent producers, with 50% guaranteed to in-house production departments. The remaining 25% is open to both in-house production teams and independent producers.

Hall said that this no longer worked because some “global producers” no longer qualify as fully independent, and so cannot produce shows in the 25% aimed at independent companies.

“So a big long-running independently-produced series like MasterChef has had to move into the 25% window of creative competition that’s open to everyone. That squeezes out creativity and innovation,” he said.

In addition, he said that the BBC’s production teams can only produce for the BBC, which he said meant the BBC was finding it harder to retain talent, who feel they can be more “creative and competitive elsewhere”.

To amend this, Hall said he wanted BBC commisisoners to be able to choose from “the best ideas from independent producers and BBC Production”.

He added: “We’ve got great talent at the BBC and I want them to stay here, to bring their best ideas to us.”

He continued that the 50% in-house quota at the BBC would be removed.

But in return for opening up the commissioning process to all production companies, he added: “If independent producers can take their ideas to any broadcaster around the world, I would want the same for BBC Production.”

Hall also talked about talent, and said the Corporation would continue to hire “the best talent” and pay them “what they are worth”.

“The BBC must be judged on the work, not just on its cost,” he added.