Is the production of BBC Drama in Cardiff under threat?

Do BBC plans to open up production to the private sector pose a threat to the supply of shows from Wales?






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In the run-up to the negotiations for the renewal of the BBC Charter Lord Tony Hall, the BBC Director General, has announced radical proposals to transform its approach to commissioning and production which could have far-reaching implications.

BBC in-house producers are currently guaranteed 50% of the output while 25% of the programmes are open to independent producers. Under the new proposals the cap could be lifted to allow the BBC to produce more of its own programmes, and make shows for other channels too, or it could allow the independent sector to grow its share of the BBC’s output.

The move is designed in part to anticipate pressure from the UK Government to curtail the BBC, and may well be deft politics by Tony Hall. But what does it mean for BBC Wales?

The Director of BBC England, Peter Salmon, this week warned that the move to open up more production to the private sector risked the progress the BBC has made over recent years in decentralising its production outside of London, and increasing the ‘portrayal’ of the other parts of the UK in the process.

So what does it mean for the future of the newly built production studios at Roath Lock in Cardiff Bay which were especially built to film programmes for the BBC Network such as Dr Who, Sherlock and Casualty?

At this week’s IWA Cardiff Media Summit the media commentator Maggie Brown interviewed Ben Stephenson, Controller of Drama Commissioning, BBC Television, about the proposals and their implications. The fascinating conversation is available here in full length, followed by the Q&A session with an audience of the key media players.