Job Title Role Within Commissioning

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Unit 24 (Writing for Television and Video) Task 1

Job Title

Role Within Commissioning


Commissioning Editor

Commissioning editors identify books or media products to publish in order to build up a publishers list, they commission work by finding authors or writers that respond to their proposals. They are sort of like a buyer; they also ensure that the author or writer delivers their product to specification and on time.


A producer is one of the senior members of production and is responsible for coming up with new ideas for TV/Film and pitching them to broadcasters and distributors of their choice. Producers are also usually involved with the legal side of production as well as having some control of the budget and brand management within the production. The producer is usually the person that will share the project with the commissioning editor and the channel controller who will decide whether to commission the idea or not.


Directors have overall responsibility of the way Television programmes or feature films are made. They lead the rest of the production team, as well as the, budget of production, and the production schedule. The director also has creative input into the production based on the story or format of the production. The director is usually appointed by the producers and is often very specialised in one area of filming.

Script Editor

Script editors may make suggestions on things to change and submit ideas they have to solve problems, but mainly their job is to help the writer (and possibly the Producer) develop the script and create something that best reflects the writers initial vision.


Agents are responsible for representing specific clients and usually work in specialised areas of the industry such as working with actors, heads of departments, writers, and other such people. They are tasked with advertising the work of their clients and finding and negotiating terms of work. They have a key role in the commissioning process as they must represent and advertise their client/s to the commissioning editor and channel controller in an attempt to convince them to give the project a greenlight. Agents are also very important in the media world as most people that that work in the industry are freelance and need someone to represent them.


The writer has a very important role in the creative side of the production and is also responsible for turning the idea into a producible format. A writer can either be approached by a producer to write a story of their choosing or can approach a producer with an idea of their own. The writer also helps in the process of pitching the idea to the commissioners.

Part A – commissioning

Commissioning is an important part of the development of any television program or feature, which sees an idea, go from paper to production. The broadcaster that will show the final production usually carries out the commissioning process so that that they can authorise production. The commissioning process for different types of productions can vary largely, the process also depends on the network that is carrying it out.
Job roles within the commissioning process

Commissioning Bodies

Broadcasters and Corporations
Many broadcaster and Television networks have their own commissioning system, which allows them to produce a wide variety of programming on their channels, all of which meet the requirements for their audience. These are the organisations that producers will pitch to as these large corporations will fund and show the production; each of these corporations has a different commissioning process in one way or another.



The BBC is one of the UK’s largest Television networks with a number of channels in its network each aimed at varying audiences. Their channels programming varies from showing prime-time entertainment to political broadcasting and news on its dedicated channels. This range of programming allows the BBC to commission lots of different genres of entertainment from natural history and science, sport, current affairs, learning, and daytime and drama. They are also vey specific on how their genres are represented on each of their channels and for their varying audiences. The BBC also states specific time slots and times that the audience is at its peak for commissioned programmes. It can cost as much as £280,00 per hour to show an entertainment programme on BBC One and somewhere between £150,00 and £300,000 per episode on BBC Two on their prime time Sunday night slot. Due to BBC’s no advert policy there are additional guidelines for showing programmes.

ITV is also one of the UK’s largest broadcasting groups, as with the BBC; it has a group of channels that are all aimed ad different audiences, although not the to same extent as the BBC. ITV also has a number of precise requirements for its programmes and is quite specific on how it wants genres to be shown on its channels. ITV also does not commission as wide a variety of programming and genres as the BBC does.

Production Companies

There are a number of different production companies in the UK, which produce nearly all of the Television programming that is available. Different production companies usually specialise in different genres of programming to avoid competition. These production companies often join together to from production groups. Companies such as the BBC and ITV often commission programmes created by these smaller companies as it is usually cheaper than producing something themselves. Channel 5 is a good example of this as they rely only on these production groups to create all of their programming and unlike the BBC and ITV do not create any of their own content.
Independent Directors and Producers
It is particularly noticeable in films when a director takes on multiple roles. Many directors (such as Peter Jackson) write and produce their own work so as to keep a creative voice in the production, they often also take part in many technical roles, such as shooting and editing footage. Having a director take on multiple roles helps to cut the budget as well, either allowing more to be spent on other aspects or just save money, allowing chance for higher profit.
Stages of Commissioning: The Role of a Writer Throughout Production
There are a few different stages to the commissioning system, these stages are often different depending on the broadcaster.
Pre-Production Planning
Pre-Production Planning is extremely important before any production can begin. For the writer involved the pre-production usually involves a lot of research into areas that their story might cover, such as historical events or the background of the ‘universe’ in something like a fantasy, this planning will allow the writer to get as accurate a story as possible. There can be legal complications if aspects of the programme are not represented properly or things have not been researched properly.
Script editing
The script editor works directly with the writer to make sure his ‘creative vision’ has been properly reached with the script. It is common for script editing to continue throughout production but sometimes changes can occur due to request from the broadcaster/distributor. Changes can sometimes also be made during production in the event of an age rating change and material may be outside of these ratings.
Director/Producer Involvement
Directors and producers have a large involvement during production with both of them having a large amount of creative input during the pre-production stage, and a lot of directive input during the filming and post-production stages. It is very important that the Director and the producers have as much control of the filming stage as they need, as this allows them to shoot exactly what they need. The director’s biggest time for input would be during filming, when he can direct the cast and crew under the management of the producers. During post the director usually assists in the editing of the films/programme and watches over the CGI if any is needed. In this stage the producers deal mainly with marketing and advertising\distribution.
Shooting script production
When the screenplay has been written it can be adapted into a shooting script, which will be used during the shooting of the Programme/film. The shooting script has camera and actor directions as well as numbers and codes that allow each scene to be easily identified during editing.
Page Lockdown
This is the term used to describe when the script has been sent out to cast and talent and is ready for production to start. Changes to the script after this point are usually marked on the script to allow it to be placed into the storyline.
Adjustment during shooting stage
There are usually changes made during production of films and programmes, mainly during live TV, this can often see changes made to the script. Late ideas from the director or producers can be added to the script, again meaning adjustments are made. As previously mentioned these changes are marked with a letter.
Part B – Working as a Writer




Agent Representation

Along with other members of the crew writers are often freelance and move from project to project during their career. To do this writers need the representation of agents who are employed to advertise the writers work, and negotiate terms for the writers work should the opportunity become available. Usually agents build up a list of contacts during their career that they can use the help them do their job as well as possible.

Royalty Payments

Royalty payments are usage-based payments to the owner of the resource used, by those who wish to use it to generate revenue. Usually royalty payments are made to the owner to compensate them for the use of an asset. These royalty payments are a legal requirement otherwise a copyright lawsuit could arise.

Professional Presentation

Many roles are determined by the presentation of the employee, especially in crowded markets like media. Professional presentation is used to decide whether a certain applicant will get a specific job role. Due to this it is very important that the work and dress of a writer is presented very professionally as it shows employers that the writer is serious about their work and is very willing to try hard on a project. The way a writer present themself can set them apart from others in the industry.

Part C – Legal and Ethical Considerations

Copyright is very important as it stops work from being copies by competing writers, due to this many scripts are now under copyright. Copyright is a legal right which gives the owner of the copyright the right to legal compensation should his or her work be copied, it also gives the owner exclusive rights to the use and distribution of the product, meaning that the writer would have control of the script regarding production.
This can be very important to some genres such as politics or conflict so it is very important that the writer does not show bias in his or hers script towards one party. Channels such as the BBC mainly produce un-biased programmes and so usually biased scripts and formats would be rejected.
Censorship is a process that is completely out of the hands of the producers and writers as it usually happens after a production has been completed and accepted, due to this it is important that writers consider what they are writing and if it is suitable for their target audience. Even though censorship doesn’t happen as much as it used to language can still be censored in productions that are shown before the watershed and companies such as the BBFC can choose to cut scenes if they wish.
The watershed is the point in time after which programmes with adult content may be broadcast. The watershed serves as the dividing line between the day and the overnight period of broadcasting. These broadcast usually contain (but aren’t limited to) strong language, gore and adult humour. ( the watershed in the UK starts at 21:00 and ends at 5:30 for all free to air channels. So therefore writers need to make sure that their programmes meet the requirements for pre-watershed broadcast.
Libel is the legally indefensible publication or broadcast of words or images that are degrading to a person or injurious to his or her reputation. ( It is very important for a writer to understand libel as any libel made by a writer can seriously harm their reputation and ability to attain future work.
Plagiarism is “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own” ( Even though most writers take inspiration from others work they should not copy another’s idea as this could again damage their reputation as well as cause legal issues.

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