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BBC Films told to raise profile

Audience must be made aware of film arm's work

LONDON — The BBC Trust has called on its filmmaking arm, BBC Films, to increase awareness of its work among license fee payers in Blighty.

In a report released on Wednesday, the Trust said that while BBC Films was great value to license fee payers, it should “develop awareness of its work, and ensure more impact when broadcasting its films on television.”

BBC Films, which has an annual budget of £12 million ($18.7 million), is one of the three public funding bodies in the U.K., including Channel 4’s film unit Film4 and the British Film Institute, which was allocated control of the distribution of lottery funds for film on Monday, an activity previously administered by the recently shuttered U.K. Film Council.

While the report noted the role BBC Films plays in supporting a “healthy U.K. Film industry” — the outfit funds around eight films per year — and approved its future strategy, it also highlighted some recommendations for the unit, which has recently backed pics such as “Streetdance 3D,” “Tamara Drewe” and “An Education.”

The Trust encouraged BBC Films to “invest in distinctive films, take creative risks and support projects that the commercial sector might not.”

It also advised BBC Films to “make more impact on television by attracting greater audience reach and appreciation, in particular by building a stronger and more consistent presence on BBC Two.”

And funding levels for BBC Films will not increase — the unit will continue to invest an average of $18.7 million each year for the remainder of the current license fee settlement, which runs until 2013.

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 has also reached out to orgs such as the U.K. Film Council, which is in wind-down mode, Channel 4, PACT and the BFI to consider whether the BBC Films strategy is aligned with its public remit.

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