BBC to Compete More Programme Production Work – Let’s Reverse Auction Gary Lineker!

There was an interesting report this week suggesting that the BBC will be forced to put more of their programme production work "out to tender" as part of their next funding settlement with the government. The organisation already has to buy in a percentage of programmes from independent production houses, but it may have to go much further. The internal staff may have to compete for pretty much all programmes - but might also have the freedom to compete on the external market themselves.

As The Times reported (behind the paywall):

"Independent producers could make up to 100 per cent of the BBC’s shows in a radical shake-up of the corporation’s programming, it has emerged. Proposals being prepared by the government will call for an end to the quotas that ensure that half of all programmes are made by the 2,000 people in the BBC’s in-house teams. This would mean that the makers of shows such as The Great British Bake Off and Sherlock could take a much bigger role".

Although I know the BBC procurement people (well, some of them anyway) quite well, they tend to be more focused on the big IT, property, and professional services type contracts. So if this change does take place, it will be interesting to see if that procurement function takes on more of the new production tendering work.

I do remember presenting at an internal BBC procurement event around 20 years ago, when I was a procurement director elsewhere,  and suggesting that they should treat buying "talent" much like more conventional procurement exercises. Why not go out to market to choose the next Match of the Day presenter, or the host of Masterchef, I suggested. Run a proper selection exercise, negotiate on price .... and of course in the spirit of market development, you should be thinking about identifying a few candidates who are ready to take over when the current incumbents stand down. Let them practice on less high-profile programmes first, perhaps.

My suggestions didn't go down too well when I put the ideas forward - a step too far, was the feeling. But perhaps I was just ahead of my time! Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this develops.

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