Monday, June 17, 2024

BBC Studios Central & Eastern Europe Boss Says It Is Starting A New Chapter In The Region With Production And Coproduction Moves – NEM Dubrovnik

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BBC Studios is working on big production and coproduction moves in Central and Eastern Europe as part of a long-term plan have a much deeper presence in the region. Bartosz Witak, General Manager for BBC Studios in CEE, was speaking at NEM Dubrovnik. He said that a push into production is part of wider plans to bolster BBC Studios’ business in Central and Eastern Europe with new strategic partnerships: “It can be considered a new chapter for us,” he told the NEM crowd.

Appointing Witak in February, BBC Studios said his hire fitted with plans for “expansion and diversification” in the region. Four months into his new role, the CEE boss unpacked what that means.

Speaking to Deadline after his keynote, Witak detailed the production plans. Drama is off the table for the moment, he said, and BBC Studios will focus on different types of factual and documentary programming. The emphasis will be on multi-part projects rather than one-offs.

Historically, BBC Studios’ business in CEE has focused on channels and program sales. Drama channel BBC First launched in the Czech Republic and Slovakia earlier this month.

Witak said the production push will complement the existing operations. “We believe by doing this, we create opportunities for ourselves at the level of channels and other products. It’s all part of one big environment – it’s an ‘all in the game’ approach – and that means it is the time to do something in coproduction and production.”

He added that another benefit will be contributing CEE programming to the distribution catalogue: “It so important for us to start upstreaming content from the region to BBC Studios’ global library.”

The content push will take different guises, from working with partners in the region to localize BBC IP, which already happens, to working up new ideas locally and taking them out globally. Some copro partners could be financial investors, others will have creative and production input.

“We will be testing every opportunity, it’s about flexibility and we’ll go case by case,” Witak said.“There are different business models – including producing in the region and testing it here [on local and regional channels and platforms] – another is to coproduce something we know can go international and take it straight to international partners.”

Witak told Deadline he is working on strategic partnerships already. By the time NEM Dubrovnik 2025 rolls around, he expects to have projects on the slate to talk about.

BBC Studios is aware it needs to forge close links with local producers and financing partners to realize its CEE production ambitions. Addressing attendees in a full NEM Dubrovnik conference hall, Witak said: “Come and talk to us whatever ideas you have… we want to be at the forefront of discussions. We can be a game-changing driver going forwards.”

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