Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BBC3 Controller Danny Cohen @ MGEITF

Danny Cohen: BBC3 is up 15%, year on year, and up nearly 50% since it's relaunch in 2008. The channel's offering a more consistent drama story, with Being Human as the lynchpin of that. New drama series Lip Service is coming in the autumn.

BBC3 struggles most in pre-watershed [the channel starts transmission each day at 7pm]. Competition before 9pm is fierce, especially soaps. Noise about the channel and its future has quietened down from two years ago. BBC3 doesn't get criticims from its core audience of 16 to 34-year-olds. There's been a 12% budget cut since 2008.

Being Human is the crucial BBC3 drama. The channel's drama slate is in a settled state for 2011. Big new show is Touch, a supernatural zombie drama created by Jack Thorne. That was commissioned to series last week. High concepts work very well for BBC3. The channel's now developing drama for 2012. Doesn't get as many scripts and projects as it would like. More choice would be better.

BBC3 always sees the world through the eyes of young people, whether the shows are drama, factual or factual entertainment. E4 and ITV2 are the main competition. BBC3 required to have a 30% maximum of imported acquisitions, such as US cartoon series Family Guy. Last year the balance was 73-74% homegrown, 26-27% imported.

Tariffs for BBC3 shows average £450,000 for drama, £100-160k for factual, £120-140k for comedy or entertainment shows. That's not far behind some terrestrial channels.

BBC3 feels confident about new drama series Touch, but there's more work to do on it, so the pilot won't be transmitted. [Touch was one of several drama pilots commissioned by BBC3. All the others - including a hospital-set horror pilot called Pulse - were broadcast, but didn't get commissioned to series.]

The decision about which series to commission was not determined solely by audience numbers. BBC3 looks hard at Appreciation Index responses, how good they thought a series might be. Pulse got an okay AI. There's a range of reasons. It's about which one you think creatively - instinctively - has the most mileage.

[Mention was made of Paul Abbott's claim that making pilots was spunking money away. Cohen:] I respectfully disagree with Paul Abbott. I believe you can learn a lot from pilots. And not all dramas go through the pilot process. Lesbian drama Lip Service went straight to series.

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