The Proms is the latest title to be put out to competitive tender, as part of the Charter and Agreement requirement to open up more of the BBC’s TV programmes to competition.
An invitation to tender for the TV coverage of the Proms will be published in June 2018. This will include coverage from the BBC Proms Event at the Royal Albert Hall on BBC Two (First Night of the Proms, Proms Extra), BBC Four and the Last Night of the Proms on BBC One.
BBC Content will invite pitches from all producers and a full list of eligibility criteria and requirements for the coverage will be openly shared with all suppliers. The BBC will retain all intellectual property rights for the programmes, which will continue to be shown across BBC Television, but the tendering process will decide which supplier produces the television coverage. The management of the BBC Proms will remain in BBC Radio Commissioning, and the proms coverage on Radio 3 will not be impacted by the tender. The volume of television coverage will remain broadly the same, but the number of hours fluctuates slightly year-on-year, depending on the selection and length of the performances themselves.
Richard Dawkins, Chief Operating Officer, BBC Content, says: “The Proms is a critical part of the BBC’s commitment to classical music, and our TV coverage is crucial in bringing these world-class performances to the widest possible audience. In putting this important event out to tender we are continuing to make good progress towards opening up the production of more of the BBC’s programming to competition.”
The other titles opened up to competitive tender were A Question Of Sport, Holby City, Doctors and Songs Of Praise. The first three were all retained by BBC Studios and the latter was awarded to two independent producers Avanti and Nine Lives. Horizon was also opened up to a competitive pitch process, with independent producers Windfall Films and Wingspan Productions joining BBC Studios to produce bundles of films for the BBC’s flagship science strand, as well as a number of single films placed into development with a range of independent producers. Daytime series Bargain Hunt was the sixth BBC title to be opened up to competition in February and a decision will be announced later this summer.
The tendering of returning series currently produced by BBC Studios forms part of the Compete Or Compare strategy launched by the BBC in 2014, which underlined the BBC’s commitment to commission the best programmes for audiences, regardless of who makes them. The BBC will be announcing further opportunities to the market across 2018: some of these will be further tenders for existing series, some will be specific invitations to pitch for new shows with a clear purpose, and others will be open calls for the best ideas as part of the normal commissioning process.
The requirements for each tender are communicated at the time of publication, with enough time for suppliers to do appropriate research and preparation. Since the Proms is an annual event, the process will be run in two parts. The Invitation To Tender (ITT) will be published in June to allow suppliers to apply and determine whether they pass the eligibility test to bid. The tender will be paused for the duration of this year’s Proms, and eligible suppliers will be invited to a site visit at the Royal Albert Hall. The tender process will resume once the season is over.