Entertainment & Arts

Holby City and Songs of Praise among BBC shows put out to tender

John Michie and Catherine Russell in Holby City
Image caption Holby City is one of the first shows being put out to tender

Holby City and Songs of Praise are among the first TV series to be put out to tender to independent companies by the BBC, the corporation has announced.

Programmes are being put out to tender in batches, with Question of Sport also being offered in the first set.

The series are currently made by BBC Studios, with the in-house arm also able to pitch to make them.

All BBC shows are going to be put out to tender over the next 11 years under the terms of the draft Royal Charter.

'Big, bold move'

News and news-related current affairs programmes are the only exception.

The move is part of the BBC's "compete or compare" strategy that sees the in-house guarantee removed for returning series.

It was introduced by director general Tony Hall in a bid to commission the best shows, whoever makes them.

The BBC retains intellectual property rights for the programmes put to tender - and they will still be shown on BBC television.


By David Sillito, BBC News media correspondent

So if Songs of Praise is put out to tender, what will that mean on-screen?

Probably not very much other than there being perhaps a different credit at the end of the show.

But it also opens up the possibility that an independent producer can revive or reinvent a show that the BBC thinks is short of "creative health".

At the moment the split is roughly half and half between BBC productions and the independents. However, the rules over that split are being torn up as part of the new BBC Royal Charter.

In future every TV programme, except for news, current affairs, sport and children's programming will be put up for tender.

So is this the end of the BBC as a programme maker? No.

The BBC is reorganising its programme making and creating a new venture called BBC Studios in order to compete. But there are no guarantees, it will have to fight for contracts and air time against the independents. A new era of sink or swim has begun.

The four shows first to be put out to tender were all approaching recommissioning decisions.

Suppliers are also being invited to pitch ideas for Horizon.

Bal Samra, the BBC's managing director of television and commercial director, says: "I believe the UK's creative sector is the best in the world - the imagination, storytelling, insight, experience, craft expertise, and passion for quality is second to none.

"It is a big, bold move, but I think what we're doing in generating this competition - with a strong independent sector and the creation of BBC studios - could make our industry even stronger."

He added that the titles concerned had been "nurtured and cherished" by the BBC, but that putting them out for tender would "test value for money".

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