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In: Stephen Oliver, Factual Commissioner, ABC TV

Stephen Oliver has been appointed as Factual Commissioner at ABC TV in Australia, reporting to Steve Bibb, Head of Factual.     Source: TBI Vision

In: Julie Hanna, Factual Commissioner, ABC TV

Julie Hanna has been appointed as Factual Commissioner at ABC TV in Australia, reporting to Steve Bibb, Head of Factual. Source: TBI Vision  

Out: Jody Smith, Entertainment Multiplatform Commissioner, Channel 4

Jodyy Smith is leaving his post of Entertaiment Multiplatform Commissioner at Channel 4, following a restructure. Source: Broadcast

Out: Adam Gee, Factual Multiplatform Commissioner, Channel 4

Adam Gee is leaving his post of Factual Multiplatform Commissioner at Channel 4, following a restructure. Source: Broadcast

Out: Andrew O’Connell, Factual Commissioner, ITV

Andrew O’Connell is leaving his post of Factual Commissioner at ITV. Source: Broadcast

In: Steve Regan, Entertainment Commissioner, Channel 5

Steve Regan is taking up a six-month secondment as Commissioning Editor for Entertainment at Channel 5, reporting to Ben Frow, Director of Programming. After his placement he is expected to return to his role as VP of Commissioning and Production at MTV. Source: Broadcast

Documentary Commissioners: Searching for Gems in the Schedule

Go to one of the major international documentary festivals and you’ll come away feeling that the genre is alive, kicking and having a party. ITV’s Jo Clinton-Davis said at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 that the audience was searching for “gems in the schedule”, but of all the commissioner panels, the documentary session seemed to be the one where the commissioners had the most trouble articulating/least enthusiasm describing what it was that they wanted or needed in their schedules; they seemed to be suffering a strange collective ennui.

Factual Entertainment Commissioners: Difficult to Deliver

Ever so often a show comes along that changes the landscape and influences everything that comes in its wake: Big Brother (contributors/contestants/celebrities confined to one location for the duration of a series), Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With the Stars (celebrities pairing with professionals to learn a skill and compete), One Born Every Minute (fixed-rig shows). The latest show to be spreading its DNA far and wide seems to be Gogglebox. At Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2015 a panel of Factual Entertainment Commissioners discussed their current needs.

Science Commissioners: Go Big or Go Home

If you are tasked with developing science programmes you face a number of challenges: the number of channels that actively embrace science is small, and sometimes those channels – in an attempt to attract as broad an audience as possible – can disguise their science content so thoroughly that it ceases to be science in the eyes of actual scientists. This makes for some uncomfortable conversations when trying to research and develop a science series or talent scout potential onscreen experts. Nonetheless there are commissioning opportunities out there for those dedicated and determined enough. A panel of science commissioners at Sheffield Doc/Fest discussed what science programming means to them and what they are looking to to commission in the coming months. Interestingly although many programmes and approaches were mentioned, few of them were recognisable as science.

Arts Commissioners: Doing it, Not Just Talking About it.

In order to be successful when pitching to TV commissioners, it’s vital to know what they are looking for. This is harder than it sounds, despite many broadcasters now sharing their commissioning briefs online (via their commissioning portals), because they are often vague and sometimes out of date.

Another way to get a sense of what commissioners want is to attend a panel in which they outline their current needs. These panels are common at TV conferences and festivals around the world. Some commissioners are refreshingly candid, whilst other remain coy and seemingly reluctant to give away their secrets; others appear more interested in scoring political points against their co-panelists than helping the audience of producers understand what they should pitch. So they can be a mixed bag. And so it was with the Arts Commissioning panel at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2015.

Out: Emma Cooper, Commissioner, Documentaries, Channel 4

Emma Cooper has left her job as Commissioner for Documentaries at Channel 4, to take up the role of Creative Director at Pulse Films. Source: TBI Vision

Out: Greg Sanderson, Commissioner, Music and Arts, BBC

Greg Sanderson is leaving his post of Commissioner, Music and Arts at the BBC in September 2015 to join Brook Lapping as Managing Director. Source: Broadcast

In: James Quinn, Entertainment and Factual Commissioner, Sky

James Quinn has been appointed as Entertainment and Factual Commissioner at Sky, reporting to Celia Taylor, Head of Unscripted. Source: Televisual

In: Bill Hobbins, Entertainment and Factual Commissioner, Sky

Bill Hobbins has been appointed as Entertainment and Factual Commissioner at Sky, reporting to Celia Taylor, Head of Unscripted. Source: Televisual

In: Shirley Jones, Entertainment and Factual Commissioner, Sky

Shirley Jones has been appointed as Entertainment and Factual Commissioner at Sky, reporting to Celia Taylor, Head of Unscripted. Source: Televisual

In: Simon Young, Commissioner, NGCI

Simon Young has been appointed as Commissioner at National Geographic Channels International, based in London and reporting to Hamish Mykura, EVP and Head of International Content. Source: Broadcast

Out: Justin Gorman, Entertainment Commissioner, Channel 4

Justin Gorman is leaving his post as Head of Entertainment at Channel 4 the broadcaster after five years. Source: Broadcast  

Out: James Hayes, Factual Commissioner, BBC

James Hayes is leaving his role as Factual Commissioner at the BBC at the end of March 2015. Source: Broadcast  

In: Jay Davidson, Assistant Commissioner, BBC2 and BBC4

Jay Davidson has been appointed to the role of Assistant Commissioner, BBC2 and BBC4, at the BBC. Source: Broadcast

In: Sohail Shah, Assistant Commissioner, Entertainment, BBC

Sohail Shah has been appointed to the role of Assistant Commissioner, Entertainment at the BBC. Source: Broadcast

In: Adrian Padmore, Assistant Commissioner, Daytime, BBC

Adrian Padmore has been appointed to the role of Assistant Commissioner, Daytime at the BBC. Source: Broadcast

In: Fatima Salaria, Assistant Commissioner, Factual, BBC

Fatima Salaria has been appointed to the role of Assistant Commissioner, Factual at the BBC. Source: Broadcast

In: Richard Ackerman, Entertainment Commissioner, Sky

Richard Ackerman has been appointed as non-scripted Entertainment Commissioner across all channels at Sky, reporting to Celia Taylor, Head of Non-Sripted Commissioning. Source: Broadcast

In: Elen Rhys, Commissioner for Entertainment, S4C

Elen Rhys has been appointed as Commissioner for Entertainment at S4C from February 2015. Source: C21 Media  

In: Rob Coldstream, Commissioner, History, Channel 4

Rob Coldstream has been appointed as Commissioning Editor for History at Channel 4 in London.   Read more: Realscreen

In: Katie Boyd, Commissioner, London Live

Katie Boyd has been appointed as Commissioner at London Live, reporting to Jonathan Boseley. Director of Programming and Commissioning. Source: Broacast

Out: Katie Boyd, Commissioner Features and Factual Entertainment, Channel 4

Katie Boyd, Commissioner, Features and Factual Entertainment, Channel 4 has left  her post to join London Live. Source: Broacast

Greenlit: The Police Commissioner, Channel 4

Cutting Edge: The Police Commissioner (1 x 60′) w/t  – Ann Barnes, Kent’s first elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), hit the headlines in April 2013 when she appointed 17 year-old Paris Brown as her Youth Police and Crime Commissioner. Paris was to act as a bridge between the police and young people. However, after a Twitter […]

Out/In: George Dixon, Controller, RTE One to Commissioner, BBC WW

George Dixon has left his role as Channel Controller at RTE to take up the job of Commissioner at BBC Worldwide, responsible for development and commissioning for BBC Earth, BBC Brit and BBC First. Source: TBI Vision

In: Derren Lawford, Commissioner, London Live

Derren Lawford has been appointed as Commissioner at new local TV channel London Live, reporting to Jane Mote, Launch Programme Director and Jonathan Boseley, Head of Programming. He will have particular responsibility Raw, a strand aimed at developing new filmmaking talent. Source: Broadcast  

How to Write a Proposal a TV Commissioner Will Actually Read

Commissioning editors can receive up to 80 programme proposals a week; few will be read from start to finish. Many commissioners never read past the first paragraph, or even the title. On average, they make a decision within 40 seconds. Usually that decision results in the proposal being filed in the bin.

So how can you make sure a commissioner keeps reading to the end of your proposal? Here are ten ways to make your proposal stand out and keep your commissioner reading to the end.

Pitching Tips Straight From the Commissioner’s Mouth

Pitching is such a tricky thing because you rarely get the opportunity to see other people do it, so you just have to take a deep breath and hope for the best. And chances are you won’t walk out of the door with a commission (research by The Research Centre suggests you have something like […]

Out: David Williams, Commissioner, Entertainment, Channel 4

David Williams has left his role as commissioning editor for entertainment at Channel 4 to become creative director of Entertainment North, BBC. Read more: C21

Out: Nick Cohen, Multiplatform Commissioner, BBC Factual and Arts

Nick Cohen is leaving his post as multi-platform commissioner for factual and arts at the BBC. Read more: Realscreen

In: Kate Maddigan, Entertainment Commissioner, ITV

Kate Maddigan has been appointed as Entertainment Commissioner at ITV, reporting to Director of Entertainment and Comedy, Elaine Bedell. Source: Broadcast

Meet the Commissioner: Diana Howie, Commissioning Editor, ITV Daytime and Factual

Diana Howie, Commissioner Daytime and Factual, ITV recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of an event run by Women in Film and Television. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioners: Katy Thorogood, Commissioner Daytime and Factual, ITV

Katy Thorogood, Commissioner Daytime and Factual, ITV recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum. Click through to find out what she’s looking to commission in the coming months. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioners: Steve Gowans, Head of Factual Entertainment, Five

Steve Gowans, Head of Factual Entertainment at Five recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum. Click through to see what’s hot and what’s not on Five. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioners: Harry Lansdown, Commissioning Editor, Formats, Features and Specialist Factual, BBC3

Harry Lansdown, commissioning editor, formats, features and specialist factual, BBC3 recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum. Click through to see what’s working on the channel and what he wants to commission. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioners: Jane Rogerson, Director of Commissioning, UKTV

Jane Rogerson, Director of Commissioning at UKTV recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum. Click through to find out what she’s looking to commission next. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioner: Dan Korn, SVP Programming, Discovery Networks UK

Dan Korn, Senior Vice President, Programming, Discovery Networks UK recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum (March 2010). Dan oversees programming on thirteen Discovery channels in the UK: Discovery HD, Discovery Knowledge, Discovery Turbo, Discovery Science, Animal Planet, DMAX, Discovery Real Time, Discovery Home & Health, Discovery Travel & Leisure and Discovery Shed. Click through to find out what programmes are working for him at the moment, and what he’s on the look out for. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioner: Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor, Docs and Features, BBC

Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor, Docs and Features at the BBC recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum (March 2010). Charlotte oversees BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4 and works alongside the commissioners for BBC3. Click through to find out what’s working at the moment and what she’s looking to commission in the coming months. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioners: Andrew O’Connell, Head of Factual, Five

Andrew O’Connell, Head of Factual, Five recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum. Click through to see what’s working on Five and what kind of programmes they’re looking for. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the UK Factual Commissioner: Jo Clinton-Davis, Controller Popular Factual, ITV

Jo Clinton-Davis, Controller Popular Factual, ITV recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum (March 2010). Click through to find out what’s working on ITV, what they’re looking for in Factual, and what they’re willing to pay. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)

Meet the Factual Commissioner: Simon Bohrsmann, Nat Geo UK

Simon Bohrsmann, General Manager National Geographic UK recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum (March 2010). Simon commissions across Nat Geo UK and Nat Geo Wild (natural history). Simon’s view on Nat Geo UK: The audience is male-skewing and older He gets a fair amount of his programming from Nat […]

In: Katy Thorogood, Commissioner Daytime and Factual, ITV1

Katy Thorogood has been appointed as commissioner for daytime and factual at ITV1 from 4th January 2009. She was formerly head of factual, features and formats at North One TV. Source: Broadcast

Meet the Entertainment Commissioner: Matthew Littleford, UKTV

Matthew Littleford, Controller UKTV, recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Entertainment Forum (as of September 2009). Matthew commissions entertainment across several channels at UKTV: Alibi, Gold, Watch and Dave. Matthew’s View on UKTV Gold – transmits classic BBC comedy and programmes that support that comedy. Alibi – Largely co-produced crime programmes; […]

Meet the Entertainment Commissioner: Mark Sammon, Virgin Media

Mark Sammon, Head of Commissioning at Virgin Media TV, recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Entertainment Forum (as of September 2009). Mark commissions programmes for Virgin 1, Bravo and Living. Mark’s View on Living Living is aimed at young women; its competition is ITV2 and BBC3. Celebrities, dating, weddings and makeovers […]

Out: Andrew Newman, Entertainment Commissioner, Ch4

Andrew Newman, Channel 4’s head of entertainment and comedy is joining Objective Productions as chief creative officer. Source: Broadcast

Out: Lucy Pilkington, Commissioner, Virgin Media TV

Lucy Pilkington, Senior Commissioning Editor at Virgin Media TV (Virgin 1 and Bravo) is leaving the company to pursue other projects. Source: Broadcast