the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect
BBC Bargain Hunt next in line for external bidding

BECTU is opposed to the large scale tendering of BBC programmes.

6 February 2018

The BBC has announced today that production of Bargain Hunt, part of the corporation's daytime output, is to be put out to tender next month.

The long-running series produced in Wales is the sixth title to be exposed to the market under the BBC's controversial Compete or Compare policy. Under the policy all programmes, outside of news and children's output, will be opened up to external competition by the end of this Charter period. 

Commenting on the development, Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, said:

"We really have to ask what's in this process for the licence fee payer? The in-house team is likely to be asked to tender a lower cost bid in order to retain the commission; that will cut standards. Similarly, external bidders are likely to submit low cost bids in order to secure BBC work. This whole process is harmful to production standards and encourages a race to the bottom. That's not what the BBC should be doing.

"Just last week BBC Birmingham was announced as the winner of the competition for Doctors. Great news for the in-house team but we fully expect cost cutting proposals to follow."

A better way

"There has to be a better way of demonstrating value for money and encouraging creativity. The independent sector is already very much involved in BBC production and this process is no guarantee that the independent sector will stay independent. Look at Sky's now 51% stake in Avanti, joint winner of the external bid for Songs of Praise in 2017," Gerry Morrissey concluded.

BECTU will be watching this exercise closely and will be offering every support to the staff and freelance members affected. 

BBC press release, 6 February 2018


The BBC today announced the next title to be put out to competitive tender as part of the Charter and Agreement requirement to open up more of the BBC’s TV programmes to competition.

An invitation to tender for BBC One’s daytime series Bargain Hunt to be produced in Wales will be published in early March 2018. BBC Commissioning will invite pitches from all producers and a full list of eligibility criteria and requirements for the show will be openly shared with all suppliers. The BBC will retain all Intellectual Property rights for the programmes, which will continue to be shown on BBC One, but the tendering process will decide which supplier makes the series.

Richard Dawkins, Chief Operating Officer, BBC Content said: “

The first titles opened up to competitive tender were A Question of Sport, Holby City and Songs of Praise. The first two were retained by BBC Studios and the latter was awarded to two independent producers Avanti and Nine Lives. Horizon was also opened up to a competitive pitch process, with independent producers Windfall Films and Wingspan Productions joining BBC Studios to produce bundles of films for the BBC’s flagship science strand, as well as a number of single films placed into development with a range of independent producers. Daytime drama series, Doctors, was the fifth BBC title to be opened up to competition last September and was awarded to BBC Studios last week.

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 BBC will be releasing further opportunities to the market across 2018, some of these will be further tenders for existing series, some will be specific invitations to pitch for new shows with a clear purpose, and others will be open to competition for the best ideas as part of the normal commissioning process.
The requirements for each tender are communicated at the time of publication, with enough time for suppliers to do appropriate research and preparation.


Query about this article? Contact us