BBC Sets Out Five-Point Plan To Help Production Companies Through Coronavirus Crisis

BBC director general Tony Hall
BBC director general Tony Hall.

The BBC has outlined its plan of action for assisting the UK production community through the coronavirus pandemic, which has ripped through the industry halting filming on most major TV shows.

The BBC is in a unique position given that its funding is guaranteed by the licence fee, and it is keen to show that it is using this position of relative stability to support program makers around the country. Its five-point plan is as follows:

  1. Supporting producers with shuttered shows: The BBC said it would be flexible about delivery times and will offer cash flow solutions on a “title-by-title basis.”
  2. Doubling its Small Indie Fund: The BBC set out plans in January to offer access to a £1M ($1.2M) development funding pot to producers with revenue of less than £10M. This fund will now be doubled to £2M.
  3. Supercharging development: While production has ground to halt, the BBC said it will increase development spend across the program-making community, as well as being clear about short- and long-term opportunities.
  4. Boosting BBC Three’s nations and regions initiative: The youth channel will look to build on partnerships with organizations such as Northern Ireland Screen to develop and pilot ideas from out-of-London indies.
  5. Ramping up acquisitions and archive investment: The BBC pledged to spend more on finished programs, as well as archive material.

BBC director of content Charlotte Moore said: “We recognise this is an incredibly challenging time for all of those working in the creative industry and especially the smaller independent production companies. We want to do what we can to keep creativity focused and thriving so that we can continue to bring audiences the high-quality content that they expect. These measures demonstrate our long term commitment to sustaining the creative health of the industry, right across the UK.”

BBC group commercial director Bal Samra added: “It’s at times like these that the creative industries need to pull together – to make sure the sector we return to at the end of the pandemic is as rich and vibrant as the one we have now.”

The BBC is also using its muscle to help the freelance community. It has pledged to make a £500,000 ($615,000) donation to the COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund set up by the BFI and the UK’s Film and TV Charity, while it joined other major broadcasters last week in writing to the government to ensure financial support is extended to TV crews.

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