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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 15:23 GMT
Indie producers attack BBC
Red Cap
Red Cap was made by an independent company
Independent producers have attacked the BBC for failing to meet targets for independent productions.

The BBC has missed its statutory target for the third year running, reports the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Pact, the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television, says the industry has missed out on 77m.

The BBC recognises it has missed the target but said it was already on course to meet next year's quota.

The OFT's report states that 21% of qualifying programmes on BBC One and Two were made, falling short of its legal requirement of 25%.

Stark illustration

The failure to reach the quota is now in the hands of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, where the Secretary of State Tessa Jowell will consider its next move.

Pact chief executive John McVay said: "Yet again this is another stark illustration of the casual disregard displayed by the BBC towards the indie sector, and it proves that the BBC doesn't even bother to treat the quota as a ceiling."

The OFT report said the BBC had met a secondary requirement that independent programmes were of satisfactory range and diversity in terms of both hours broadcast and cost of acquisition.

The OFT annually monitors the amount of independent programming on BBC terrestrial channels, but this role will be taken over by the communications regulator Ofcom, which comes into force in December.

The rules on what qualifies as independent programming has recently changed, allowing foreign-owned production companies to be included.

The rule change means BBC One's Fame Academy, made by Dutch-owned Endemol, would qualify in next year's figures.

Sanctions

A BBC spokesman said: "We recognise that we have missed the quota this time around but we are already on course to meet next year's.

"We are committed to independent programming and are pro-active in commissioning independent production companies."

But Eileen Gallagher, managing director of Shed Productions and chair of Pact, said: "Clearly the only way the BBC will understand the importance of the quota to the health of the independent sector is through the use of sanctions by Ofcm in future years."

She added that Pact will be writing to BBC governors to ask what action is being taken to comply with the law.

Independent programming during the past year has included Red Cap and Killing Hitler.

The BBC has recently announced deals for independent companies to produce 60 hours of horse racing as well as darts coverage.




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