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BBC puts TV arts coverage out to competitive tender

Mary Beard. Photo: BBC/Andrew Hayes-Watkins Mary Beard. Photo: BBC/Andrew Hayes-Watkins
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The BBC could outsource the making of its topical arts coverage, and has announced it will open a bidding process for its production contract next month.

It is the latest in a series of titles that have been put out to competitive tender by the broadcaster, following A Question of Sport, Holby City and Bargain Hunt.

BBC2’s topical arts coverage, including Front Row Late – hosted by Mary Beard – and its Edinburgh Nights programme from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, will be part of the package going out to tender, as well as the creation of a series of standalone programmes to mark cultural highlights.

There will also be an invitation to pitch a new film show for BBC4.

The plans are part of an existing commitment by the BBC to put some of its returning series out to competitive tender, with its own commercial arm, BBC Studios, competing with other independent production companies to make the programmes.

This is part of a plan to “commission the best programmes for audiences, regardless of who makes them”.

The BBC will retain all rights for the programmes, and will continue to show them on BBC television.

The BBC’s director of arts, Jonty Claypole, said: “The BBC has a long and illustrious history of reflecting, reviewing and capturing the biggest stories, personalities and ideas in contemporary culture.

“We are excited to be opening up our topical arts output, as well as creating opportunities for a new format to competition so we can ensure the greatest value for licence fee-payers.”

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