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BBC to scrap production quotas

The BBC is set to tear up its production quotas and start making shows for rival broadcasters, as its director general proposes an open market for programme making at the pubcaster.

Tony Hall is set to make the announcement at a Future of the Licence Fee seminar at City University in London this morning.

Lord Hall said the quota system, which ensures that half of all BBC programmes are made in-house, should end and called for a “competition revolution.”

Outlining plans for the BBC to adopt a mantra of “compete or compare,” he also announced his desire to extend competition across the BBC.

Such as move could open up £400m (US$684m) worth of commissioning opportunities to the indie production sector and the news is likely to be welcomed by UK indie producers’ trade association Pact, long-time campaigner for the corporation to reconsider its production quotas.

However, part of the plan also includes freeing up BBC Production to compete for commissions from other broadcasters in the UK and internationally, providing increased competition for the indie sector.

Hall will tell delegates: “Competition is good for the BBC and I want more of it. I want proper competition in programme supply, overturning the current system that no longer works as it should.

“I want a less-regulated system that ensures both our own producers and those of the independent sector have creative freedom. I want a level playing-field between BBC producers and independent ones.”

He went on to call for “a BBC production powerhouse that is a beacon for creativity, risk-taking and quality; and an amazing, world-beating independent sector.” The system should “support British content” and “keep the UK competitive in a global market.”

Hall maintained that the pubcaster was not going to “sacrifice quality to price” and insisted it would achieve both.

The BBC currently allows external production companies to bid for a certain amount of output, while ring-fencing around half of its production in-house.

The number of hours for external content changes according to scheduling and audience demand but makes up around 25% of all BBC programming.

However, any changes will not be made until the BBC’s Royal Charter is renewed in 2017.

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