Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Overhauling the BBC- what would you do?

This year at Sheffield Doc/Fest, a very special Question Time session is
giving you the chance to influence government policy.

The Question Time Special will focus on the 10 best recommendations that
the documentary community sent to the festival in response to their
callout. The next step is Doc/Fest delegates at Question Time will vote (using a
super high-tech audience voting system) for the 5 recommendations they want
presented to all the major political parties.

This is our chance to make a difference.
The list below shows the topics up for discussion so have a read and get
your argument ready:

1. MINIMUM REGIONAL DOCS
Broadcasters' Statutory Commitments should specify a minimum percentage,
by hours, of independent documentary productions, that must be commissioned
from outside the M25.

Most broadcasters only have a commitment to produce a percentage of
general programming outside of the M25 but not necessarily a specific
percentage of this will be documentary.

2. BBC DOC FUND
The BBC should make self-imposed spending cuts and invest the savings in
an independent production fund that supports indie documentary production
as well as innovative and cross platform indie productions. This fund could
be managed internally in the BBC, externally or used to support existing
independent funding organisations.

Saving could be achieved by:
a) Introducing salary caps
b) Contracting the commissioning of in-house programmes such as Panorama
out to independent production companies

3. CHARITABLE TAX RELIEF
The Government should allow public service documentaries to receive tax
relief on donations by allowing them to be 'lent' charitable status by
umbrella organisations.

4. NGO + NON-PROFIT
Ofcom should allow NGOs and non-profit organisations to fund Public
Information Programming, whether in part or in full.

5. UKFC/RSA's TARGETS
The UK Film Council and all Regional Screen Agencies should have targets
for documentary production. They should have specific funds ring-fenced for
documentary and dedicated fund manager specialising in nonfiction with a
dedicated budget to invest in documentary productions.

6. MERGER DEAL BENEFITS
All company mergers or acquisitions in the media industry should be
required to provide a package of industry wide benefits as part of any deal
. This package will have to satisfy specific requirements before legal
approval will be granted. The package could include contribution of a small
percentage of the sale/merger toward an independently managed production
fund, or existing funds.

7. LEVIES FOR PROD. FUND
Levies should be introduced to finance an independent public service and
documentary production fund.

The levies could be on:
a) Recording equipment or blank media. (DVD's etc)
b) Direct Media: Profitable organisations such as Satellite and Cable
broadcasters.
c) New Media: Internet Service Providers and mobile phone operators
d) Regulatory Assets

8. PSB REPORTING PANEL
Ofcom should appoint a panel of independent broadcasting professionals to
report annually on the PSB delivery of the BBC, Channel 4 and any
broadcaster with a PSB remit.

9. TAX CREDITS
There should be a tax credit system for documentaries with non-theatrical
intent but with international sales potential and/or cultural importance.
International documentaries and Co-productions should be eligible.

10. BBC ARCHIVE
The BBC should offer reduced archive rates for documentary usage.