Stimulating Creativity of Original Television Production at the BBC
Communications University of Nicosia Nicosia, Cyprus
The current Royal Charter has set the BBC six public purposes for the decade 2007-2017. One of these is to "stimulate creativity and cultural excellence". The organisation consequently delivers on this purpose by producing "more programmes that are fresh or demonstrate new ideas" (BBC Annual Report 2007/08). In this paper I will address how exactly the BBC attempts to stimulate creativity of its original television production. I will also analyze long-term changes in television production at the BBC and argue how the organisation now combines accountability with creativity. Finally, I will analyze how creativity was perceived at the BBC historically and how it is perceived today. The paper therefore seeks to contribute to the discourse on managing creativity in television production.
Recent restructuring and internal policy decisions at the BBC, especially the adoption of the Window of Creative Competition (WOCC) from January 1st 2007, can be seen as a significant attempt to stimulate its creativity of television production. The WOCC results in the BBC's in-house production unit and the independent production sector to openly compete for approximately 250 million pounds worth of annual commissions of original television production. Based on a report by an independent consultancy commissioned by the BBC (The Work Foundation July, 2005), this will progressively lead to a decline in in-house television production making the WOCC susceptible to further examination. Other efforts to stimulate creativity include more use of technology during the commissioning process and more emphasis on audience research and programme-testing during the development phase.
The paper draws on a wide range of primary and secondary sources. It combines case study exploratory analysis with long-term historical perspectives on organisational changes that have occurred at the BBC.