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Format Awards 2021

BBC, Pact agree new terms of trade

The BBC and UK trade body Pact have agreed a “historic” new terms of trade deal for BBC television productions made by independent producers.

Tony Hall

It brings to an end a long period of wrangling between the UK pubcaster and the country’s independent production sector, with the talks at times appearing strained on the subject of online programming rights.

But now the BBC has said the new terms of trade will provide it with the ability to transform what it can show on BBC iPlayer, while Pact called the agreement “mutually beneficial.”

The main sticking points in the talks, which have been going on since last year, was the BBC wanting an automatic 12-month BBC iPlayer window on all content it commissions within its initial payment. Currently content is guaranteed to be on iPlayer for just 30 days, unless by separate negotiation.

Pact was concerned this increase would have a detrimental impact on producers’ secondary rights revenues and lead to a further increase in deficit financing.

The new agreement sets out fixed rates for exclusive and non-exclusive extensions to the iPlayer window beyond 12 months, except where otherwise agreed as part of the funding arrangements for the production.

Separate discussions will take place over children’s content, while programming commissioned by BBC3 for both linear and online publication will retain its current initial iPlayer window set out in the terms of trade.

For independent producers, this deal sets a clear framework across genres, providing certainty of payments for use beyond 12 months. In addition, the BBC will pay the producer sooner to extend the licence period if the additional iPlayer windows are taken up beyond 12 months.

Producers will also see greater revenue streams as a result of the BBC share of net receipts from sales being reduced to 10%, except in the UK during the term where it is reduced to 20%.

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, said: “This is an important deal for the BBC, the industry and the wider public. Not only have we reaffirmed our commitment to supporting independent UK producers, we have also ensured licence fee payers have access to the best content for at least a year on BBC iPlayer. Everybody wins.”

Sara Geater, All3Media’s chief operating officer and chair of Pact, added: “The terms of trade are the lifeblood of the UK indie sector and I’m delighted we have reached a mutually beneficial agreement with the BBC that gives them the flexibility to increase exploitation of the programmes across iPlayer as well as their linear services.

John McVay

“This is obviously crucial at a time of increased competition from the global SVoD players. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the BBC team for their positive engagement”.

Bal Samra, BBC group commercial director, said: “We are the largest supporter of the UK production sector and so our priority was always to get a deal that worked for the broadest range of suppliers possible, regardless of size, location or type of content they make. This agreement does that, and means that at a time of rapid change, a strong BBC can continue to invest in its home market and champion UK content.

“I’m delighted we will be able to deliver more value to licence fee payers whilst at the same time independent producers will be able to showcase their work to a bigger audience and increase their commercial returns.”

John McVay, Pact’s chief executive, said: “Pact has worked hard over many months to ensure that the BBC understood that indies deserve to be paid fairly for their content to be used for additional periods on iPlayer.

“iPlayer has become even more important to viewers during this lockdown period and it’s great that more compelling programmes will be available for longer – and that all UK companies will benefit from success”.

Both the BBC and Pact wish to see the new terms of trade come into force as soon as possible. The terms coming into effect for entirely new commissions from Monday.

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