In one of the biggest breaches with its music traditions, the BBC on Friday awarded the contact for filming the Proms for the next two to a start-up independent production company with no classical experience.
The winning bidder, Livewire Pictures, was established only last year.
The decision is a shocking departure from BBC dependability by a chain of decision makers that runs from the head of music Jan Younghusband all the way up to the DG, Lord Hall. It is a seriously bad day for the BBC.
We will give you the BBC’s official version down below. But first read this internal round-robin:
This message has been sent to all Production colleagues in the UK.
You may have already seen the news about the Proms tender outcome today. For those who haven’t: BBC Commissioning have informed us that Livewire Pictures has been awarded the two-year contract.
Our colleagues in our music production team are, understandably, extremely disappointed – as are both Suzy and I. The team have worked so hard and have done an amazing job for many years delivering one of the absolute highlights of the music calendar. Their Proms programming has not simply been coverage. It is a world-class exemplar of how television can help shape, develop and enhance a cultural event, whilst enticing and educating newcomers to classical music along the way. They are responsible for building it into what it is today and can afford to be extremely proud of the shape they’re handing it over in. Of course that – as well my belief and confidence in the strong pitch they put together – will offer little consolation for coming a close second.
I know I won’t be alone in needing some time to come to terms with this news. Eventually, the more detailed feedback we’ll be seeking from Public Service will no doubt contain important lessons for us to take forward. However our one and only focus now is supporting all of the people – our colleagues – who are affected. We will do everything to make the next steps as smooth as they possibly can be.
Please join me in offering your support for colleagues in Entertainment & Music. They deserve huge praise for the work they have done on the Proms and on our music programming in general.
As Fran Kemp – Executive Producer of the programme – so eloquently summarised when the team were told earlier: our view of the Proms should not be defined by today’s news but by 35 years of brilliant and highly acclaimed broadcasts.
Director of Content
OK, got that? Now for the BBC’s spin:
The BBC is today announcing that after a competitive process Livewire Pictures has secured the tender to produce TV coverage of the BBC Proms.
This contract for the 2019 and 2020 seasons is for TV coverage of the Proms only. The commissioning and production of the concerts themselves remains with the BBC Proms team which sits within the BBC’s Radio and Education Division. The BBC will retain all intellectual property rights for the programmes, which will continue to be shown across BBC Television as they have been in previous years. The Proms coverage on Radio 3 is not impacted by this tender.
TV coverage of the Proms was previously made by BBC Studios and the tendering of returning series currently produced by BBC Studios forms part of the Compete Or Compare strategy launched by the BBC in 2014, which underlined the BBC’s commitment to commission the best programmes for audiences, regardless of who makes them. The tender process began in June 2018.
The bid from Livewire Pictures was considered to be the strongest from a field of six eligible producers who submitted proposals.
Jan Younghusband, Head of Music TV Commissioning, says: “There was a very competitive field for this tender but we believe this bid will deliver the best coverage of the Proms on television for our audiences. The BBC’s Proms Concert Season itself will be unaffected by this change. The winning bid offered the appropriate mix of innovative new ideas and respect for the rich history and traditions of the BBC Proms.”
The contract covers TV coverage of the Proms in 2019 and 2020 and includes:
A minimum of 24 BBC Proms concerts including;
– 22 concerts on BBC Four
– First Night of the Proms on BBC Two
– Last Night of the Proms on BBC Two and BBC One including the performance capture of Proms in the Park but does not include the capture for the BBC Proms events in the Nations
Full capture of Proms in the Park and the Radio 2 Festival in a Day for the BBC’s digital and online platforms (via BBC Red Button, the BBC iPlayer and the Radio 2 website)
Seven weekly critical review shows, currently known as Proms Extra on BBC Two.