Monday, June 22, 2015

On hold

It looks very much like Lord Hall has had to put "BBC Studios" in the box marked "too complicated", at least for now. The well-connected Steve Hewlett opines in the Guardian that the proposed slightly-arms-length-semi-public-super-indie won't form part of the discussions on Charter Renewal - at least not from the BBC side.

This may be connected with a letter from ITV's lawyers to the BBC Trust, which has somehow fallen into the Telegraph's hands. “Our view is that it would be extremely challenging to implement a proposal along the lines currently proposed that conforms with EU state aid law.

“We have not seen anything that suggests that the BBC has considered these issues in any detail or has any proposal on how that will be resolved

“If [BBC Studios] is to be endowed at the outset with advantages that are not available to its commercial competitors, whether in the form of cheap funding, cheap assets, or a long term revenue stream on non-commercial terms then this would put it in a privileged position as compared to all other providers in the market.”

Broadly put, it seems as yet, the business brains of Anna Mallett, Tim Davie and Anne Bulford, have yet to find a way of acquiring the capital required for start-up costs in a way that doesn't seem to come from the licence-fee, or look like a subsidy no competitor could match - like a guaranteed contract to produce Eastenders and Strictly. And name an indie start-up happy to take on the pension costs of the BBC staff that would be TUPE'd across ?

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