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Press releases 2002 -

BBC falls short of independent productions quota

PN 62/02     26 September 2002

The BBC narrowly missed the statutory target to ensure that at least 25 per cent of 'qualifying programmes' were independent productions in the period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001. It achieved a figure of 23.7 per cent.

However, during the period two production companies previously classed as independent producers ceased to be so. Both companies were acquired by other broadcasters – Endemol Entertainment UK plc was acquired by Telefónica SA and Talkback Productions by Pearson plc. If both companies had been included as independents the percentage would have been 26.6 per cent.

The BBC did meet the requirement that independent programmes were of satisfactory range and diversity in terms of both hours broadcast and cost of acquisition. The monitoring does not extend to the BBC's digital channels.

The OFT's eighth statutory report on the BBC's transmission of independent productions has been made to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Download the report in pdf format (111 kb)


1. Last year's report found that the BBC achieved a figure of 28.1 per cent between 1 April 1999 and 31 March 2000.

2. Under section 186(1) of the 1990 Broadcasting Act (the Act), the BBC has a duty to secure that, in each relevant reporting period, not less than 25 per cent of the total amount of time allocated to the broadcasting of qualifying programmes is allocated to the broadcasting of a range and diversity of independent productions. According to section 186(2) a range of independent productions refers to a range of such productions in terms of cost of acquisition as well as in terms of the types of programmes involved. Under section 186(9), the relevant period for the purpose of this report is 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001.

3. Under section 186(3) of the Act, the Director General of Fair Trading is required, in respect of each relevant period, to make a report to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the extent to which the BBC has, in his opinion, performed their statutory duty under these provisions. Section 186(4) provides that this report may contain an account of the reasons for his conclusions. Under section 186(6), he is required to publish his report.

4. The expressions 'qualifying programmes' and 'independent productions' are defined in the Broadcasting (Independent Productions) Order (SI 1991 No 1408 amended by SI 1995 No 1925). With certain exceptions, 'qualifying programmes':

  • are made or commissioned by the BBC; if another party is involved, the BBC must bear at least a quarter of the production costs; or
  • consist of live coverage of an event provided by another party, when at least a quarter of the programme has been made or commissioned by the BBC.

5. In this press release the functions of the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) under the Act are for simplicity described as the functions of 'the OFT'. The Enterprise Bill proposes to replace the office of the DGFT with the OFT, to which would be transferred the DGFT's functions.

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