Indie producers nab most BBC commissions

Producers secure orders ahead of in-house pitches

LONDON -- Independent producers claimed three-quarters of the 25% of BBC commissions for which they were allowed to compete in the April 2007-April 2008 period.

The scorecard is likely to support the view held by some independent producers that the indie sector is a better source of generating programming ideas than the BBC's own in-house producers.

An independent review of the process carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the system supports commissioning diversity, but will inevitably raise questions about the quality of BBC production.

Under new commissioning structures set up a year ago, 50% of all BBC commissions were set aside for in-house producers, 25% went to independent producers and another 25% of all commissions were the subject of competition between the two groups.

That quarter share, dubbed the "window of creative commission," or WOCC, was designed to allow free competition between in-house producers and the BBC's staff in a bid to get better ideas on screen.

Indies performed particularly well in children's, knowledge, entertainment and comedy commissions, but fared less well in the drama genre, which was dominated by long-running in-house BBC productions.

"In drama, where more than half of the WOCC was won by in-house producers, returning series appears to be the key factor," the review said.