BBC Unveils Measures to Support U.K. Independent Production Sector Hit by Coronavirus

Charlotte Moore
Pete Dadds

The BBC has unveiled a package of measures to help bolster a U.K. independent production sector that’s struggling amid the coronavirus lockdown.

British producers, like their counterparts worldwide, have been hard hit amid delayed and canceled shoots caused by the coronavirus crisis.

A new five-point plan by the BBC to “back the broadcasting industry at this difficult time” includes doubling its investment in its Small Indie Fund, supercharging development and investment in archive rights.

Firstly, the corporation said it would work closely with production companies on current projects that have been disrupted, to find supportive solutions wherever possible. The BBC said this will include being flexible around delivery, and varying cash flow as appropriate on a title-by-title basis.

The BBC also said it will invest more money in development over the next few months to focus on both short and long-term opportunities.

Investment in its Small Indie Fund, which launched earlier this year to focus development spend on production companies with turnovers of less than £10 million ($12.3 million) per annum, will also rise this year from £1 million ($1.3 million) to £2 million ($2.5 million).

Meanwhile, the BBC will increase investment in archive and acquisition rights as part of a bid to broaden its range of content available for audiences.

Finally, youth-skewing service BBC Three will look to build on creative partnerships it has struck with BBC Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland, and expand these in other nations and regions of the U.K. in a variety of genres. BBC Three’s partnership with BBC NI and NI Screen has seen producers secure factual entertainment pilots for the channel.  The BBC said at least one idea per nation or region will be commissioned.

Bal Samra, BBC Group commercial director, said: “It’s at times like these that the creative industries need to pull together — to make sure the sector we return to at the end of the pandemic is as rich and vibrant as the one we have now.”

Charlotte Moore, BBC director of content, added: “We recognise this is an incredibly challenging time for all of those working in the creative industry and especially the smaller independent production companies.”

The BBC previously announced a donation of £700,000 ($861,000) to support The Film and TV Charity to assist freelancers affected by the hiatus in filming and production.