UK broadcasters called to account on commissioning model


UK British broadcasters need to adopt a new commissioning model in order to broaden the revenue base for British programming and protect the production sector, actor, comedian and technogeek Stephen Fry said during his BAFTA television lecture.

Broadcasters should move to a scheme that saw them take a share of overseas sales revenues, or risk seeing parts of the independent production sector go under, Fry said.
Under the existing relationship between independent producers and broadcasters like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, producers are paid for the UK transmission rights and have to use revenue from international rights to attempt to pull in a profit.

"The result is dramas and documentaries that have one foot planted in resolutely British soil with the other wobbling and hopping and pointing its toes hopefully in the direction of the world … and indies that are just one commission away from insolvency."

While Fremantle, BBC Worldwide, ITV Global and All3Media have successfully broken into the international market with successful formats such as Dancing with the Stars and X Factor, many smaller companies are living from hand to mouth trying to win domestic commissions, Fry said.

"This current model means that the broadcasters, the BBC and the ITV, have no stake in making films, dramas, documentaries or features of international appeal while at the same time the independents who depend upon them have a stake in little else."

He also criticised broadcasters for making “infantile’ programmes and not taking intelligent adults into account.

"Infantilism is the problem. It’s just shocking. The only dramas the BBC will shout about are Doctor Who and Merlin. They are wonderful programmes, don’t get me wrong, but they are not for adults."

Source: World Screen


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