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
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
Account Customers by Industry Type
Ad Agencies300CharitiesCorporates250EducationalFilmFinancial200GovernmentalMagazines150MuseumsNewspapersOrchestras100PR AgenciesNumber of Customer AccountsRadio Theatres50TV
0Number ofNumber ofAccountAccountCustomersCustomers
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
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