BBC Developing App to Keep Track of Pitches Following Producers' Complaints

Charlie Gray
Danny Cohen

A recent survey showed that the BBC was the worst of the U.K. broadcasters in responding to email

The BBC’s TV head Danny Cohen revealed Friday that the broadcaster was developing a new app specifically aimed at indie producers to help make the process of commissioning new content more efficient. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, which concludes Saturday, Cohen said that the tool would be called Pitch and should be available by this fall.

“It’ll work on your smartphone, on your tablet, or on a laptop or main computer, and it’ll make it speedier, quicker, friendlier … You’ll be able to get a much better sense of where your idea is in the process,” he said, adding that while emails would still be a part of the discussion, he hoped Pitch “would make a difference.”

Cohen announced the app in a panel discussion in which the BBC came under fire for its relationships with small producers in the pitching process. A new survey conducted by SPA Future Thinking, the results of which were announced in the talk, showed that the BBC fared the worst among the main U.K. broadcasters with regard to responding to emails this year, with 29 percent of producers saying that they’d had to wait more than a month for a reply. Elsewhere in the survey, 69 percent of producers claimed that the BBC had canceled meetings with unreasonably short notice.

“I don’t think it’s good enough,” said Cohen on the statistics, singling out the factual department as the main area for concern. “There are a number of things that came out of the research we’ve done, and one was about speed. Responses aren’t quick enough, there’s not enough quick ‘no’s, and we’re asking for too many versions of treatments before they go to the channel controller.”

Cohen also warned BBC employees failed to deal with producers in a courteous manner.

“What I’ve said to those teams and those people involved is that you can be the most creative people alive, but if you can’t manage your supplier relations well enough, we won’t get the best ideas, and I don’t want to be working with you. You’re not representing the BBC in the way I want you to.”

On Thursday, Cohen said that he hoped to see a female Doctor Who someday, while elsewhere at the festival, HBO programming head Michael Lombardo revealed details about the upcoming second season of True Detective and why True Blood is ending.