Meet the Commissioners – Learning

Posted on: Friday 02 July 2010 4:21am

The BBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel and Teachers TV outline their commissioning strategies and explain how they commission content from independents in the UK.


Sue Nott, Executive Producer Independents, CBBC Drama


Ayoub El-Gaidi, Online and Multimedia Manager, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel

David Libbert, Creative Director, Teachers TV

Sarah Miller, Commissioner, Formal Learning, BBC Learning

Alice Taylor, Commissioning Editor Education, Channel 4

There are opportunities for indies in the Learning Sector according to the commissioners at today’s session, but as always budgets are tight.

Sarah Miller (BBC) told delegates it’s a time of great change in BBC Learning especially with the move to Salford. She said Saul Nasse, the new controller of BBC Learning will announce his new strategy in September. In her words “Watch this space”.

Sarah concentrated on their ‘Learning Zone Class Clips’ a website which covers all subjects in the curriculum. It’s aimed at 5 to 16 year olds and houses six thousand clips. Most are archive but they do commission new content for the site.

BBC Learning have one commissioning round each year around May/June for both primary and secondary content.She said they tend to send briefs to indies who specialise in this area of content. But she did add that if you have a brilliant one off idea it is worth submitting it at any time of the year. She said indies working for Learning will need to have an educational consultant on board and a production team with experience in this area – but they are keen to work with new companies.

Alice Taylor and Jo Twist head up Channel 4 Education. Their budget is £4 million per year and they aim their content at 14 to 19 year olds. They have an annual briefing for indies in April/May each year where they announce the kind of things they are looking for. They target their material at young people as opposed to teachers and provide content that doesn’t happen within the curriculum. They have no approved supplier list and Alice said they have a very informal pitching process. Just get in touch.

Things didn’t seem quite so rosy with David Libbert from Teachers TV. His message really was that they have very little money and the commissions they have tend to go to the trusted companies they already work with. However he did say it was worth getting in touch. Their budget is on average £1000 per minute.

Ayoub El-Gaidi was more positive. Al Jazeera Children’s Channel was launched in 2005.Sixty per cent of the content is commissioned and forty per cent comes from acquisitions. It’s a public television service and it’s hoping to be the channel of choice for every Arab home. He says its aim is to educate and entertain. They have one commissioning round each year and post briefs on the website. is their education website which aims to make teaching and learning more enjoyable. They have 900 video clips on the site mainly from Al Jazeera television archive. He says teachers can download the videos to use in the classroom. He’s looking for content which he says doesn’t have to be specific to the Middle East or Asia and can be about general knowledge as well as the curriculum.

So everyone’s open for business but beware they’re all looking for value for money!

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