BBC S&PP to close Digital Media Services division

BBC Studios and Post Production (BBC S&PP) is closing its Digital Media Services division in South Ruislip in order to focus more heavily on its core services of studios and post production-related activity.

Audio Media International spoke to David Conway, managing director of BBC S&PP, who explained that the closure comes as part of a greater business realignment move that will see the firm return to the BBC’s Television Centre and reopen Studios 1 to 3 in 2017.

And with the facility set to close in 2016, consultation has begun with the 32 affected staff and the company has stated its commitment to ‘avoiding redundancies wherever possible through redeployment or exploring other options with potential parties’.

The proposed setup seeks to imitate the modular approach adopted at the company’s existing Elstree facility: “When we go back to Television Centre in 2017, there’ll be a core number of editing suites inside, but there are also a number of multi-purpose rooms in the site,” Conway remarked. “We have a core of around six edit suites but that can scale up to twenty or so according to requirements and the scale of projects we have in hand. Those edit suites, depending on project requirements, may one day be used as production offices, and the next day servicing a post-production project.

Though the South Ruislip site is to cease trading in its current iteration, BBC S&PP aims to incorporate key services back into the business: “The Digital Media Services business house in Ruislip is a bit more like post-post-production, because it’s not using immediate broadcast requirements,” Conway told AMI. “The guys out there do things like restoration, format transfer, digitisation, compliance and tech review work; it’s not traditional post-production, but there’s still a level of synergy with our other services. So when we do close South Ruislip, some of those services will transfer into the core of the business.”

Exactly which services are to be assimilated and which are to be terminated are yet to be determined: “What we’re doing at the moment is we’re engaging with our clients and our staff to see what services on that site will be consolidated into the other part of the business,” Conway added.

The company has also announced it will continue operations at Elstree and its other locations, supporting shows and projects for a range of broadcasters, independent production companies and content owners, including titles such as Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders, The Chase, Pointless, and A League of their Own.

Conway concluded: “This has been a difficult decision to make, but we need to hone the business in on our core strengths in advance of reopening our Television Centre studios in 2017. We will do everything we can to take care of our colleagues, all of whom have poured their energies and expertise into Digital Media Services over the years. Our focus is also on our DMS clients who we will be working closely with over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition to the new approach.”