The BBC and Northern Ireland Screen today [Thursday, March 26] signed a new partnership agreement to support the television and online industries in Northern Ireland.
The purpose of the joint agreement is for the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen to work together to invest financially and creatively in developing an internationally competitive screen industry in Northern Ireland.
The partnership agreement aims to:
- Help ensure Northern Ireland is strongly represented to audiences across the UK and internationally
- Support the production of broadcast and online content with network and international potential
- Make the case for the economic benefits of investment in the creative sector, highlighting the distinct, but complementary, roles which both parties play in this area.
The agreement follows a call from Lord Hall for the BBC to be the risk capital for UK creative industries and Northern Ireland Screen’s Opening Doors strategy, which was launched last spring to help Northern Ireland build the strongest TV, film and digital industry outside of London in the UK and Ireland within 10 years.
The partnership sees the BBC commit to invest a minimum of 2.9% of its network television spend in Northern Ireland in 2016. This is in addition to the investment provided by BBC Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Screen commits to supporting the agreement by using funding mechanisms contained within its Opening Doors Strategy 2014-18 which has an overall added value target of £250million for the period 2014-18.
The BBC and Northern Ireland Screen will also collaborate in new and continuing content across factual, entertainment, digital, drama, children’s and animation, learning and languages.
These collaborations include the recently announced new BBC One Saturday night entertainment series Can’t Touch This and the third series of The Fall. Devised and produced by Northern Ireland-based independent production company Stellify Media, the BBC commission Can’t Touch This has international investment potential. Shot and based in Belfast, international broadcasters buying the format of Can’t Touch This will also film in Northern Ireland using the expansive, specially constructed set. The Fall, starring the award-winning lead cast of Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, will start filming its third series this autumn in Northern Ireland.
The agreement was signed by BBC Director-General Tony Hall and Chair of Northern Ireland Screen Rotha Johnston in the office of the Director-General in New Broadcasting House, London. Also in attendance were Peter Johnston, Director BBC NI, Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen and Steve Carson, Head of BBC NI Productions.
BBC Director-General Lord Hall says: "This partnership agreement with Northern Ireland Screen demonstrates our enthusiasm for working with others to make great things happen. In recent years Northern Ireland has proven itself to be a creative breeding ground for some of the UK's best drama and factual content. We want to support these areas and help develop exciting entertainment and digital prospects, such as the forthcoming BBC One series Can't Touch This. Along with Northern Ireland Screen we want to develop the creative talent that exists in Northern Ireland and make it a new force in broadcasting."
Northern Ireland Screen Chairwoman Rotha Johnston: “Today marks a significant stage in the development of the Northern Ireland screen industry and underlines the importance of a joint approach to its future strategy. This partnership agreement is a clear substantiation of the wholesale commitment of the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen to invest financially and creatively in continuing to develop an internationally competitive screen industry in Northern Ireland.
“It strengthens the case for the economic benefits of investment in the creative sector, highlighting the distinct but complementary roles which both parties play. Northern Ireland Screen will use its existing funding programmes outlined in the Opening Doors Strategy to support the implementation of the agreement, which we firmly believe will help us deliver the strongest screen industry outside of London in the UK and Ireland within 10 years. We look forward to meaningful collaborations across all content areas to help ensure Northern Ireland is strongly represented to audiences both in the UK and internationally.”
Sir Kenneth Branagh, Honorary President, Northern Ireland Screen, says: “The Northern Ireland cultural landscape has changed dramatically in recent years and as Honorary President of Northern Ireland Screen and constant supporter and collaborator with the BBC, I am delighted to see this shared approach and formal commitment to the long-term future of the creative industries in Northern Ireland.”
Dermot Lavery, of Belfast-based independent DoubleBand and PACT representative for Northern Ireland says: “This partnership is very good news for our screen industries and home grown talent. Great credit must go the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen in a time of uncertainty for the wider economy. They have designed a unique partnership that effectively is an investment in our creative capital and the competitive future of Northern Ireland. Reputationally Northern Ireland has already had much to boast about in recent years with drama hits like Game of Thrones and The Fall. The big hit with this initiative however is the opportunities it offers producers here in all genres. The real winners will be the viewing public in Northern Ireland and far beyond."
Factual & Entertainment
In the areas of factual and entertainment: the BBC will seek to develop an observational documentary series set in Northern Ireland, with funding support from Northern Ireland Screen; both partners will encourage local production companies to develop factual formats with network and international potential; the BBC will brief local companies at an early stage in the development and commissioning of landmark series and seasons; the BBC will continue to support the development of entertainment formats which meet UK-wide network and genre needs, such as Can’t Touch This and the recently announced BBC Four quiz show The Hive. The Hive (working title) is a co-production between Co Down-based Green Inc Film & Television and London based Saltbeef TV and will be filmed in Northern Ireland later this year. The executive producers are Stephen Stewart and Jeremy Salsby.
The BBC and Northern Ireland Screen will also support projects that have potential with The Space digital arts initiative.
Digital & Learning
In the BBC’s year of coding, The BBC and Northern Ireland Screen will support growth in digital, games companies and educational programming and events by: Engaging local digital producers in the BBC Rewind digital archive project and briefing on BBC Future Media opportunities; holding targeted commissioning briefings for Northern Ireland producers on interactive and games opportunities for CBBC and CBeebies which could attract match funding from Northern Ireland Screen; working to identify games and mobile content propositions from the BBC’s back catalogue which could attract match funding from Northern Ireland Screen.
The partners will also seek to identify opportunities for BBC NI Digital & Learning teams to work with Northern Ireland Screen’s Education funded projects and to develop the Aim High Digital training initiative for digital content creators, working in partnership with other organisations.
BBC Drama and Northern Ireland Screen will: build on and renew the current successful Northern Ireland-produced BBC Drama slate (including The Fall and Line Of Duty), with BBC and Northern Ireland Screen co-financing productions; increase Northern Ireland-produced network commissions on BBC One and BBC Two; identify opportunities to produce television drama series in Northern Ireland which are capable of attracting international co-financing.
BBC and NI Screen recognise the importance of local production ownership and creative talent in the long term development of a sustainable sector.
BBC Drama will invest a minimum of £200,000 per year during the term of the partnership in the development of local writing, directing, performing and production talent.
Children’s & Animation
BBC and Northern Ireland Screen will further enhance local productions for CBBC and CBeebies through: A BBC commitment to invest an average of £2million per year in children’s content made in Northern Ireland; a Northern Ireland Screen commitment to co-develop and co-finance with the BBC scripted live action, animation, interactive and games content with international potential; targeted children’s commissioning briefings for companies based in Northern Ireland on live action and animation opportunities.
BBC and Northern Ireland Screen will also work together to identify and support animation projects aimed at non-children’s audiences, including for BBC Three and the international market.
Moving forward the BBC will assist Northern Ireland Screen in the technological development and maintenance of a portal, linked from the BBC, where ILBF and USBF programming will be hosted. The BBC will also pursue opportunities for ILBF and USBF material to be broadcast on its network services.
It is hoped the partnership deal will also encourage further partnerships between the BBC, Northern Ireland Screen and other Northern Ireland bodies.
The above content is a press release from NI Screen