Media release: BBC Scotland announces measures to back creative industries during pandemic


BBC Scotland has unveiled a raft of measures including commissioning two new series on life during the lockdown, funding development of ideas for future production, re-licencing archive programmes from Scottish producers and working with network services to licence recent BBC Scotland programming in a bid to help support the hard-pressed creative sector.

In addition the corporation will work flexibly with the creative sector on contractual terms including cashflow, editorial requirements and delaying programme delivery.

BBC Scotland is also supporting creative initiatives such as Scenes for Survival, a new season of short artworks from National Theatre of Scotland, featuring short pieces of theatre created remotely by leading Scottish actors, writers and directors.

“Scotland has a dynamic creative sector which delivers great programmes for our audience. We know how important it is to support Scottish producers, writers and performers during this unprecedented lockdown”, said BBC Scotland head of Commissioning, Steve Carson.

In the last few weeks two new series – Socially Distant with Susan Calman and People’s News: Virus Diaries – have been commissioned as part of the move to boost production while BBC Scotland has also relicensed several programmes to provide non-news content for home-based viewers keen for entertainment content as well as public service news and education content.

The move is part of BBC’s overall five-part point plan to ensure continuity and back the broadcasting industry at this challenging time.

The measures announced will provide investment in purposeful activity and enable production companies to continue a pipeline of quality ideas and programmes, in both the short and long term.

The package of measures include:

1. A company-centric approach to impacted productions
2. Doubling our investment in the Small Indie Fund
3. Supercharging development
4. Expanding BBC Three creative partnerships
5. Investment in archive rights

Charlotte Moore, director of Content, says: “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.”

Further details of the measures announced today:

1. A company-centric approach to impacted productions

* We will continue working closely with production companies on current projects which have been disrupted, to find supportive solutions wherever possible. This will include being flexible around delivery, and varying cash flow as appropriate on a title-by-title basis.

2. Doubling up our investment in the Small Indie Fund

* We will scale up our ring-fenced funding in the previously announced Small Indie Fund this year from £1m to £2m;

* This additional funding for companies across TV and film will enable us to increase the value of our investment in some cases and work with a larger number of companies who’ve already expressed an interest in the fund – focusing particularly on the smallest producers, those in the nations and regions or with diverse leadership;

* We will identify and ringfence clear short/medium-term development opportunities for this group and give them clear commissioning contacts; and

* The selection of companies will be informed by both network and nations commissioners.

3. Supercharging development

* We will inject additional development spend over the next few months to focus on both short and long term opportunities; and

* We will openly communicate these to the sector over the next few weeks via our website and online briefings in relevant genres.

4. Expanding BBC Three creative partnerships in other nations and regions

* BBC Three already has a successful partnership with BBC NI & NI Screen which has seen producers secure Fact-Ent pilots for the channel;

* Working with BBC Nations and Regions and interested sector partners, we will extend this model to other areas of the UK in a variety of genres; and

* Following an open brief, shortlisted companies will receive development funding and in-depth online sessions with the BBC Three team. The best ideas will be piloted, as appropriate to the relevant genre, and at least one idea per nation or region will be commissioned.

5. Investment in archive rights

* We will increase investment in archive and acquisition rights during this period; and

* This will broaden the range of content available for audiences to enjoy across our services.

In addition, as previously announced, the BBC has donated £700,000 to support The Film and TV Charity to assist freelancers affected by the hiatus in filming and production caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will come principally from the BBC’s commercial production and distribution arm, BBC Studios, with contributions from public service commissioning teams, including BBC Content.

Alongside our own plans, we will also update our commissioning website to provide information for companies and freelancers as to where they can go for other advice and support during these challenging times.

These initiatives and funds relate to BBC Content; other commissioning teams in BBC Radio, Education, Nations and Regions and Children’s will take the same overall approach but applied in a way relevant to their sector, and be communicated as appropriate.

Notes for editors:

The Small Indie Fund was launched in January this year – more info here:

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Contact: Eloise Curran