Both U.K. TV giants have unveiled packages to help a struggling indie sector impacted by the pandemic.
Both the BBC and ITV on Monday unveiled measures aimed at assisting the U.K. independent production sector suffering from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“This is an unprecedented event, which is causing massive disruption in the market, for broadcasters, production companies, talent and freelancers," said BBC group commercial director Bal Samra. "It's at times like these that the creative industries need to pull together — to make sure the sector we return to at the end of the pandemic is as rich and vibrant as the one we have now."
The BBC's five-point plan will, claims the corporation, "provide investment in purposeful activity and enable production companies to continue a pipeline of quality ideas and programs, in both the short and long term."
The package includes a company-centric approach to impacted productions, finding solutions such as flexibility around delivery, and varying cash flow as appropriate. Also included is the doubling of the BBC's ring-fenced small indie fund to 2 million pounds $2.5 million, enabling the public broadcaster to work with a larger number of companies and focus particularly on the smallest producers.
Meanwhile, ITV has announced a £500,000 $615,000 development fund for the the indie sector designed to accelerate the search for new ideas and content for the channel to play in the later part of 2020 and in 2021. "ITV's success is based on the ideas that are brought to us by indies from across the U.K. and we don't want that to stop," said ITV's Director of Television, Kevin Lygo. "We have this money specifically available to ramp up development over the next few months so we can hit the ground running when current restrictions are lifted."
The BBC has already donated 700,000 pounds $860,000 — most coming from its BBC Studios commercial arm — to The Film and TV Charity to assist freelancers impacted by the production hiatus, and last week was among the signatories of a letter to the government calling for assistance to the film and TV professionals who fell through the gaps of the coronavirus financial support schemes.
The BBC has announced plans to host a coronavirus telethon on April 23, bringing together its two charity partners, Comic Relief and Children In Need, for the first time.
Produced by BBC Studios, The Big Night In will go live for three hours on BBC One and aims to cheer up the nation by spotlighting stories of kindness, humor and hope during the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic.
Along the way, the show will invite donations which will go towards vulnerable people who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Comic Relief and Children In Need will funnel the cash to local charities on the frontline.
The BBC said the show would be star-studded, but is yet to name any famous names taking part. The broadcaster’s last telethon, Sport Relief, was hosted by the likes of Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness and featured contributions from the Stranger Things cast.
The BBC added that The Big Night In will be broadcast live while respecting “all current social isolating government protocols.” Peter Davey and Colin Hopkins will executive produce. It was commissioned by BBC director of content Charlotte Moore, entertainment chief Kate Phillips and Katie Taylor.
Moore said: “BBC One will bring the nation together for this special one-off live charity event. I would like to thank both BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief for joining forces in these unprecedented times to provide their support to local charities, projects and programmes across the whole UK; and to all of the stars taking part in this unmissable night of entertainment when the country needs it most.”
The BBC’s Big Night In follows similar plans in the U.S., where Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert will front One World: Together At Home across NBC, ABC and CBS on April 18. The event, which is curated by Lady Gaga, has been put together by social action platform Global Citizen and the World Health Organization.