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BBC and Northern Ireland Screen Sign Partnership Deal

27/03/15

BBC and Northern Ireland Screen sign partnership agreement in a bid to support Northern Irish television and digital industries

The BBC and Northern Ireland Screen have 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: “This 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."

For more information, or to download the full Partnership Agreement, please go to Northern Ireland Screen.