Saturday, March 11, 2017

Religious affairs

A cynic might suggest the tender process and outcome for Songs of Praise looks a little too cute. Did the documents say a partnership would be considered ? Who put the Cardiff and Manchester companies together ? Was the BBC side offered the same opportunity ?

There are around 30 BBC production staff based at MediaCityUK who owe their employment to Songs of Praise. It's not their fault that indies can do it cheaper; in terms of demonstrating innovation, the BBC has been very cautious with the 55-year-old show - the odd purple-lighting format, a bit of gospel and some electro-hand-waving stuff are about as far as is goes.

If the BBC had won the deal, the staff involved would have been part of the new commercial subsidiary, BBC Studios, from 1st April - and BBC Studios would have had to find cheaper accommodation outside MediaCityUK for them.

If the Cardiff company, with Songs of Praise experience, had won the whole contract, an unknown number of the existing BBC staff, some with over 20 years' experience, would have been offered the choice between transfer to a new contract in Wales, or redundancy. Now there's a chance that a few will have the choice between a new contract in Spinningfields, Manchester, or redundancy. With a company that has no previous track record in religious or music programming.  And, one guesses, BBC Studios, already making 300 redundancies this year, won't take many of the existing staff with them. Staff working on Holby City and Horizon, the next two tenders, won't be awfully impressed.

  • March 16th Update: Nine Lives' CEO Cat Lewis tells Broadcast's Indie Summit that the Songs of Praise win was a collaboration with Avanti from the beginning. 

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