The case for turning BBC Studios into a commercial subsidiary, published today, is as information-lite as the new company will apparently be asset-lite.
Over ninety pages, there are plenty of promises about fair-dealing, rate cards, preserving reputation and brands, but no real figures. The BBC Trust have the full business case, which is not being released for reasons of commercial sensitivity; all we're told is "BBC Studios’ five year business plan is forecast to deliver a level of profitability and
returns that is in line with market norms."
So its assets will be largely existing commissions plus ideas developed for commissioners but rejected (in case they can flog them to someone else), all to be valued at time of transfer. Plus, of course, staff, who will be TUPE'D across to the new organisation - no numbers supplied. BBC Studios promises to pay a far price for the offices, computers, HR services etc, it will use.
The whole thing is so pious that somebody - could it be Mark 'Mr Showbiz' Linsey ? - has pimped up the intro with split infinitives and Spurious Capitalisation.
"The BBC is proposing to transform its current in-house television production arm – BBC
Studios - by seeking permission for it to become a wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the
BBC, able to operate in the market. BBC Studios would be able to produce programmes for
the BBC and other UK and international broadcasters to return value to the BBC, and would
operate on a level playing field with other suppliers. Giving production teams the chance to
work with more than one commissioner brings creatives more oxygen. This is the key step
change that will enable the BBC to reinvent its production arm to better deliver to BBC
audiences, create value and continue to play its unique, underpinning role in the UK’s
"BBC Studios would be a unique and exciting business with a clear mission ‘To support the BBC
Group by producing bold, British, creative content for customers and audiences around the
world’. It would reflect and uphold the BBC’s values and support the BBC Group’s public
service mission. It would seek to attract the most diverse, creative and collaborative talent, with
teams working across the Nations and Regions of the UK, and be a place where they are
inspired to do their best work. It would be distinctive in the market: delighting in range and
specialism, and making the full range of genres: premium talent-led Drama; popular daily soaps;
ground-breaking Comedy; hard-hitting Documentaries; in-depth explorations of specialist topics
in, for example Science, Art and Religion; super landmark Natural History; live Events of
national importance and Entertainment shows that bring the UK together. It would not limit
itself to just those genres with the most commercial appeal. The BBC would remain by far its
most important potential customer.
"Alongside BBC Studios, the BBC (in accordance with the Government’s White Paper on
Charter Review) is opening up to competition millions of pounds of content spend to be
creatively competed. Just as the Window of Creative Competition in the last Charter was a
step change in content supply, the BBC's new arrangements will represent a watershed
moment of creative meritocracy, bringing benefits to the wider sector."