BBC Films Gets Thumbs Up From BBC Trust

Urged to take creative risks and support projects that the commercial sector might not.


LONDON -- BBC Films, the Beeb's standalone movie-making unit, took a rap across the knuckles from the BBC Trust for not doing enough to create awareness of its work for its myriad license fee payers.

The report, published Wednesday said the movie-making unit, with an annual budget of £12 million ($18.8 million) "delivers great value to license fee payers, but should develop greater awareness of its work."

The Trust, also tasked with giving the go-ahead to strategy proposals for the filmmaking unit, noted BBC Films should "ensure more impact when broadcasting its films on television."

But the good news is that the Trust has given the thumbs up to BBC Films' ongoing strategy.

BBC Films, one of three public bodies -- along with Film4 and now the BFI -- provides significant public funding for movies here and its development investment often paves the way for the greenlight on projects. It typically is involved in around eight feature films annually.

BBC Films creative director Christine Langan responded positively to the Trust findings.

"From Streetdance 3D to Made In Dagenham and Tamara Drewe, BBC Films has had a successful year and I am pleased the trust has endorsed our strategy including plans to increase the impact of our films on television and online, and to keep developing U.K. creative talent," Langan said.

Among the recommendations made by the Trust to BBC Films is for the unit to "take creative risks and support projects that the commercial sector might not."

It also wants the unit output's current home on BBC Two to be bolstered.

BBC Films will continue to invest an average of £12 million each year for the remainder of the current license fee settlement, which runs until 2013, the report noted.

BBC Trustee David Liddiment, who led the review, said: "BBC Films has a key role to play in supporting a healthy U.K. film industry and delivers real benefits to license fee payers. The Trust would like to see BBC Films continue to take creative risks and developing U.K. film projects that the commercial sector might not."

The Trust also asked organizations including the soon-to-closed U.K. Film Council, Channel 4, PACT and the British Film Institute to consider whether the BBC Films strategy was aligned with the BBC's public purposes.