BBC Commissioning new docs about America by Americans, first deadline March 2

Interesting new partnership between the BBC and US-based indie radio supporters AIR and PRX (among others). Deadline for pitching your doc ideas is March 2. Details HERE and below.

Real America
The BBC Public Radio Partnership

The aim of the scheme is to give a chance to any radio producer working in the USA – independent and those working at public radio stations – to make a documentary for the BBC World Service.


Editorial Brief


We are looking for documentaries that will show our global audience of 40 million (including millions in the USA) an America they didn’t know existed. We want to hear stories that are unexpected, that only radio producers living in the USA could unearth. The stories could be obscure or could be staring us in the face but will say something about the USA of 2012. If a listener was to hear all 4 documentaries they would come away with a deep understanding of American society and the direction its traveling in. The brief is deliberately vague as we don’t want to be prescriptive – I simply have no idea what we will commission. Just be aware that it has to appeal to an audience that could be listening in Atlanta, Bristol, Cairo, Delhi, or Hong Kong.



We will commission 4 documentaries (single or series). These will be made by producers working in the USA. We want to find and encourage new talent.


Stage 1.  A call out for ideas – at this stage we only want one paragraph on the idea and one on your talents/experience. Closing date for Stage 1 – 02.03.2012 (12noon EST)  All ideas should be submitted to  

Stage 2.  The short list. A shortlist of 20 or so ideas will be drawn up with the help of the BBC Public Radio Partnership Committee. The shortlisted candidates will then draw up a fully budgeted proposal.  BBC World Service staff will be at the end of the phone and email to advise producers on their ideas. Closing date for Stage 2 – 26.03.2012 (12noon EST)


Stage 3. The BBC Public Radio Partnership Committee will meet to identify the successful candidates. The BBC will have final say on the successful ideas. Meetings to be held during week beginning 2nd April 2012.  


The BBC Public Radio Partnership CommitteeJeremy Skeet (Commissioning Editor, BBC World Service, Chair); Heather Maclean (Head of Business Development, Americas & Australasia, BBC World Service); Sue Schardt (Executive Director, Association of Independents in Radio (AIR)); John Barth (Managing Director,; Steve Edwards (Content Development Director, WBEZ); Sam Fleming (Managing Director of News and Programming, WBUR); John Decker (Director of Programming, KPBS).

Stage 4. Production. Each commissioned producer will come up with a production timetable.  If the producers are station based we would hope the station would help find an executive producer. If an independent producer is commissioned we will work with AIR to find an executive producer/mentor.

Stage 5. Broadcast. We will broadcast the documentaries on the World Service, and they would also be available to any Public Radio Station for broadcast. They will live online at and (tbc).

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