LONDON — News that the BBC is bidding for U.S. sci-fi skein “Triangle,” days after being warned by the British government to stay out of bidding wars for acquisitions, has put the pubcaster in a tight spot.
The Beeb, the subject of a prelegislative review releasedWednesday, confirmedFriday that it is interested in buying “Triangle” despite a passage in the paper saying it should only bid for U.S. fare when it’s consistent with the org’s public purpose.
“The BBC should stay out of bidding wars for expensive foreign imports except where it is clear that no other terrestrial broadcaster would show all the programs or films in question, or that the acquisition would clearly contribute to the public purpose,” the paper, a consultative document, opined.
But the pubcaster, reported to have tabled a $3 million bid for the Bermuda-based miniseries being made for the Sci Fi Channel by Bryan Singer (“X-Men”) and Dean Devlin (“Independence Day”), defended the move.
A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC is bidding for ‘The Triangle’ because there is an appetite for quality acquisitions and our audience feels that it is public service.
“The BBC wouldn’t be able to produce a program like this because of the cost, so it’s the cheapest and best way to bring these quality popular shows to the U.K. audience.”
An insider added: “The idea that the BBC is driving up prices for U.S. shows is frankly ridiculous. It’s Sky and Channel 4 and, to a lesser extent (Five), that are throwing money at these shows.”
In fact, the Beeb has bought very few shows of late.
In 2002 it exited an auction for “The Simpsons,” when 4 and Five started to hike up the price.
It is understood that the exceptional credits attached to “Triangle” is the reason why the pubcaster is in negotiations for the skein, earmarked for flagship web BBC1.