Concerns as Red Bee continues to use BBC resources

Concerns have been raised by the screen design industry after it emerged last week that Red Bee Media is continuing to use BBC resources, including job advertisements, since being sold in July 2005.

Under what is termed an Interim Service Agreement, Red Bee Media has been using human resources and finance facilities at the BBC.

When asked by Design Week, the BBC refused to disclose a copy of the ISA or reveal its contents, citing commercial confidentiality. A BBC spokeswoman declines to detail what other resources the agreement extends to or when it expires.

Red Bee Media job vacancies are being advertised as part of the BBC’s jobs listings, effectively appearing as part of the BBC’s own vacancies. This is despite the fact that Red Bee Media has been a wholly separate company for eight months and that it is not BBC recruitment policy to advertise non-BBC positions.

A spokeswoman for Red Bee Media told Design Week that the agreement to advertise the vacancies would expire at the end of last week and, although the consultancy has just launched its own on-line recruitment page, the vacancies were still in place on the BBC website this week, as Design Week went to press.

According to the BBC spokeswoman, ‘Set things were agreed at the time of the sale, including the use of services to ensure the transition of the business.’ She adds that such agreements are ‘standard practice’ when one company is exiting another, following a disposal.

But a number of figures in the screen design sector have raised concerns over the continuing close relationship between Red Bee Media and the BBC, highlighting Red Bee Media’s access to BBC resources, frequent references to the BBC name and an atypically long supply contract.

‘When we are pitching for broadcast design business outside the UK, we can’t help but feel that Red Bee Media has something of an unfair advantage, thanks to its close association with the BBC,’ says Lambie-Nairn chief executive Nick Hough.

‘I think this is an example of unfair competition from Red Bee Media,’ adds a senior industry figure, who did not want to be named.

Earlier this month, Red Bee Media was awarded the contract to design the next generation of BBC 1 idents, following a pitch against roster consultancies (DW 16 March). It also handled the rebrand of ITV at the start of the year (DW 12 January).

RED BEE MEDIA / BBC:

• BBC Broadcast sold to Australian investment fund Macquarie for £166m in July 2005; became Red Bee Media in November

• Interim Service Agreement has allowed continued use of BBC resources by Red Bee Media

• Red Bee Media also holds a ten-year contract to supply services, including design, to the BBC

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