Plans unveiled by the BBC and Channel 4 to support Scots indies produce ‘returning series’

PLANS to assist independent TV production companies in Scotland develop programming that can be produced on a repeated basis (as opposed to one-off programmes) have been unveiled by the BBC and Channel 4.

The joint initiative by the broadcasters is part of a wider initiative to support the “long-term sustainability and creative health” of the independent TV production sector – including specifically in Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, the plan is – says a media release announcing the initiative – for the BBC and Channel 4 to “work with Scottish indies and encourage the growth of more returning series in Scotland by strengthening ideas development and formatted factual skills”.

The release continues: “Both broadcasters will have a team of specialist commissioning execs with a brief to share insight and expertise, with the specific aim of maximising Scottish production companies’ ability to win commissions in this area.

“For the BBC, the executives are Jo Street, Tanya Shaw and Alan Tyler across Daytime, Formatted Factual and Factual Entertainment.

“Channel 4 has already published a year plan of indie engagement – the most expansive in the company’s history – and will supplement that with increased focus on returning popular factual genres. Editors from Daytime, Factual Entertainment and Features hold monthly meetings in Channel 4’s Glasgow offices.

“BBC and Channel 4 will work together to drive the success of this initiative, but will retain their own relationships with companies, and will compete with each other to commission the best ideas.”

The release continues: “The initiative is open to all Scottish based independents who have a track record in factual formats, or who have an ambition to scale up to do so.

“As strong ideas emerge, the broadcasters will shortlist them. Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise will provide a range of support services to the independent production companies, whose programme ideas are selected, to maximise their chance of success.”

The release quotes Ken MacQuarrie, Director BBC Scotland, as saying: “Today’s announcement marks a new phase in our commitment to support the independent sector in Scotland. I am delighted we will be working with Channel 4, Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise to help develop new opportunities for independent production companies. It’s a strategy which is designed to broaden the base of sustainable production from independents who want to build up their expertise in delivering successful formats for the UK networks in the first instance and the international markets beyond.”

And Stuart Cosgrove, Channel 4’s Director of Creative Diversity, is quoted, as saying: “The strength of the independent sector is crucial to the development of the Scottish creative economy. There is a consensus amongst the regulator Ofcom, the Producers Association PACT and the Scottish Government that the public service broadcasters should work in partnership where they can to strengthen the sector.”