BBC Trust finds merit in commissioning decisions

MUMBAI: The BBC Trust has completed its first biennial review into the operation of UK pubcaster the BBC's "Window of Creative Competition" (WOCC).

The review found that the WOCC is working well and commissioning decisions are being made on merit with no obvious bias towards in-house teams or independent producers. The review was led by BBC Trustee Rotha Johnston.

Johnston said, "The public judge the BBC on the quality of its programmes. For the BBC to produce a wide range of high quality and distinctive programmes, the commissioning process needs to work effectively. Our review has shown that in its first year, the WOCC has worked well."

Elaborating upon the review, Johnston stated, "The review found that commissioning decisions are being made on merit, with independent producers doing well in the WOCC's first year. Meanwhile the BBC's in-house teams are responding positively to the challenge of increased competition. Everyone wants the best programmes to be commissioned and there is evidence that the WOCC is playing a part in achieving this."

Some of the findings of the review are:

- The WOCC is working well and commissioning decisions are being made on merit with no obvious bias towards in-house teams or independent producers. 

- Commissioners are seen as being open to good ideas regardless of where they come from. 

- Independent producers welcome the WOCC but needed more information about its operation. 

- There is a reasonable spread of opportunities across genres and by audience, cost, and geographic area. 

- Independent producers have won three quarters of the opportunities under the WOCC, performing particularly strongly in children's, knowledge, entertainment and comedy. 

The Trust has made a number of recommendations to improve the operation of the WOCC. These recommendations are designed to make the WOCC more open, transparent and accessible, as well as ensuring the commissioning process is operating as efficiently as possible.

These recommendations are:

There should be clearer information and guidance about the WOCC's operation, the scope of opportunities available and role of the e-commissioning system.

The BBC should consider how the principles of the WOCC can be better applied to sport. There should be more sharing of best practice across genres.

The BBC should consider adopting better labelling of programmes, to make clear which programmes have come from different commissioning routes in order to better assess the operation of the WOCC in the future.

The BBC should consider how it can offer independent producers a better understanding of audience data. 

The BBC should review its handling arrangements for complaints about the process.

The Trust has asked the BBC Executive for an initial report on these recommendations by November 2008.

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