BBC Information and Archives, Commercial Service - how and why it

By Ronald Gonzalez,2014-06-17 23:39
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BBC Information and Archives, Commercial Service - how and why it ...

    BBC Information and Archives, Commercial Service - how and why it was established.

    Speaker, Guy Strickland, Business Development Manager, BBC Information & Archives

Worked for I&A since 1993

    Set up a Commercial Information Research service.

    Was Customer Service Manager before taking on my current role.

Pre BBC career

    Research Consultant for a company of headhunters

    Head of Research at an advertising agency


    The familiar refrain of “Content is King” has rung out around the world of broadcasting for a number of years but what can an archive do to ensure that external commercial access to that content is made as easy and customer focused as possible.

    I want to talk today about the experience of BBC Information & Archives in creating its Commercial Service and to illustrate the kind of people and processes that we have put in place to help us operate a successful research operation.



    PowerPoint Slide : facts and figs about I&A

    information and archives

    Commercial Service

    I&A Holdings 1.5m film/video tape (600,000 hours content)

     750,000 audio recordings (300,000 hours content)

     22.5m news cuttings

     500,000 phonetic pronunciations

     1.2m commercial recordings

     4.5m sheet music items

     3m photographs

     100m documents


    BBC Information and Archives comprises the BBC‟s regional and national libraries, programme archives and research centres, and have a wealth of resources stretching back over seventy years of broadcasting. Collections cover programme archives, photographs, music (both sheet and recorded), sound material and effects, and document archives. It is the largest service of its kind in the UK and the most extensive in the world.

    In addition to programme archives, the BBC has guardianship of the documents which are part of the corporation‟s history and these holdings date back to the BBC‟s inception in 1922.

    Prior to the Commercial Service being set up in Aug 2000 pockets of commercial activity had existed in a number of areas of Information & Archives (I&A), namely:

? TV Archive

    ? Radio Archive

    ? Photograph Library

    ? Sheet Music Library

    ? Information Research Library (press cuttings and other information reference sources)

    ? Document Archives

    (Its important to clarify at this stage that contributor and third party permissions for use and re-use of all footage and audio materials must be obtained and then licensed by BBC Worldwide Library Sales).


So why create a Commercial Service

    To make some money!

Why does anyone set up a business if not to make money.

Everyone who has ever worked in an archive recognises

    the ”value” of their collection and a public service broadcaster

    on the scale of the BBC has almost a duty to make their

    programme archives available to commercial customers. I

    would like emphasise here that the services my teams offer are

    strictly for business customers and not members of the public -

    the BBC has arrangements with the National Film and TV

    Archive and the National Sound Archive to make BBC

    programme content accessible to the license-fee paying public.

    The Commercial Service is all about making money and

    ploughing back into the BBC any revenues over and above our

    running costs. I think that most of the BBC viewers and

    listeners would expect and approve of the BBC generating as

    much income as possible out of its archive.

Secondly a Commercial Service helps the process of

    licensing BBC material.


     The BBC‟s official commercial arm is BBC Worldwide and generates income to support the UK licence fee by marketing programme-related products and services around the world. Library Sales is part of BBC Worldwide and is responsible for licensing audio and video extracts for use in any media across the globe. Many of our customers come to us via Library Sales and it was important that I&A were able to respond efficiently to this flow of work

    The process for licensing BBC material could be seen by some customers as quite difficult to navigate - having a dedicated commercial team in Information & Archives has helped enormously and I‟m sure - I hope - our Library Sales

    colleagues would agree.

    To channel more effectively the types of external enquiries I&A has always received.


I&A has always been the recipient of a large number of

    unsolicited calls from both the general public as well as

    potential business customers. Having a Commercial Service

    enables us to quickly judge the most appropriate BBC or non-

    BBC destination for these enquiries. This makes the

    experience for the caller more pleasant ( and certainly

    speedier!) as well as affording I&A an opportunity to capitalise

    on income opportunities.

To be better placed to capture untapped sources of income.

By this I mean having a team of people working entirely for

    external customers sharpens their knowledge of what is

    happening in their customer‟s industry and by working closely

    together market intelligence becomes keener and more useful

    when supporting promotional activities. Although the majority

    of our income presently comes from TV programme makers -

    you can see from the next slide the extent of that - we do have

    an increasing toe-hold in other sectors - particularly publishing,

    advertising and other corporate industries.

    PowerPoint Slide : Account Customers by Industry Type


    information and archives

    Commercial Service

    Account Customers by Industry Type

    Ad Agencies300CharitiesCorporates250EducationalFilmFinancial200GovernmentalMagazines150MuseumsNewspapersOrchestras100PR AgenciesNumber of Customer AccountsRadio Theatres50TV

    0Number ofNumber ofAccountAccountCustomersCustomers

    Industry Type

Often these kinds of customer are not accessing BBC

    programmes in order to ultimately license their content, rather

    they are making use of the material to conduct background

    research on a subject, person or perhaps place. The TV and

    Radio programmes we archive are full of facts and analysis and

    when set alongside the breadth of sources I&A holds in its

    information research holdings forms an unrivalled resource.


PowerPoint Slide: Examples of customers

    information and archives

    Commercial Service

    Ogilvy & MatherNBC NewsReutersMTV

    Lowe Lintas & PartnersShell

    House of LordsGreenpeaceEon Productions Ltd - for the next James Bond Film

    Chrysalis TelevisionAbbott Mead Vickers BBDOCBSQ Magazine

All of these organisations are account holders with our

    Commercial Service and as you can see they are by no means

    all broadcasters or tv programme makers - but major

    organisations with a need for background research to help

    them with perhaps planning an ad campaign, preparing a new

    business pitch or maybe using our archives to design film

    sets/costumes or locations.

To reassure external customers that they are our priority.


From the commercial customers point of view it is not easy to

    convince them that their research requests will not take second

    place to perhaps live BBC News programmes unless you are

    able to categorically state that the team does not work for

    anyone inside the BBC. From very early companies have

    expressed this concern - especially if they too are working in

    organisations that require very fast turnarounds - a good

    example of this are our national newspapers customers and

    their use of the I&A Photo Sales team.

Finally - to demonstrate absolute clarity with regard to

    funding of a BBC commercial activity.

I t is vitally important for the BBC, a public service

    broadcaster, to distinguish quite clearly the financing of

    different parts of the business and in particular to be able to

    demonstrate that no licence-fee income is being used to fund

    commercial activities. Having a separately staffed team

    definitely supports the kind of clarity required.


Lets now move onto - how we’ve done it!

    Created Single Entry Point For Commercial Enquiries (as far as possible!)

    In order to grow the disparate businesses the decision was taken to amalgamate the majority of them into a single service.

    In an organisation the size of Information & Archives, consisting of some 500 people and with an array of

    departments, sites and telephone numbers it was important to make it as straightforward as possible for people to get to the research team that could help with commercial enquiries.

    All enquiries relating to the TV Archive, Radio Archive and our Information Research sources access the services via one telephone number, one fax number or one e mail address. The exceptions that still exist (and we‟re working on these!) are the Photo Sales, Sheet Music and Written Archives operations.

We recruited the right team


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