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BBC And NI Screen Sign New Partnership

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The BBC and Northern Ireland Screen have signed a new partnership agreement to support the television and online industries in Northern Ireland.

The purpose of the joint agreement is for the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen to work together to invest financially and creatively in developing an internationally competitive screen industry in Northern Ireland.

The partnership agreement aims to:
• Help ensure Northern Ireland is strongly represented to audiences across the UK and internationally
• Support the production of broadcast and online content with network and international potential
• Make the case for the economic benefits of investment in the creative sector, highlighting the distinct, but complementary, roles which both parties play in this area.

The agreement follows a call from Tony Hall for the BBC to be the risk capital for UK creative industries and Northern Ireland Screen’s Opening Doors strategy, which was launched last spring to help Northern Ireland build the strongest TV, film and digital industry outside of London in the UK and Ireland within 10 years.

The partnership sees the BBC commit to invest a minimum of 2.9 per cent of its network television spend in Northern Ireland in 2016. This is in addition to the investment provided by BBC Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Screen commits to supporting the agreement by using funding mechanisms contained within its Opening Doors Strategy 2014-18, which has an overall added value target of £250million for the period 2014-18.

The BBC and Northern Ireland Screen will also collaborate in new and continuing content across factual, entertainment, digital, drama, children’s and animation, learning and languages.

The agreement was signed by BBC Director-General Tony Hall and Chair of Northern Ireland Screen, Rotha Johnston, in the office of the Director-General in New Broadcasting House, London. Also in attendance were Peter Johnston, Director of BBC NI; Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen; and Steve Carson, Head of BBC NI Productions.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: "This partnership agreement with Northern Ireland Screen demonstrates our enthusiasm for working with others to make great things happen. In recent years Northern Ireland has proven itself to be a creative breeding ground for some of the UK's best drama and factual content. We want to support these areas and help develop exciting entertainment and digital prospects, such as the forthcoming BBC One series Can't Touch This. Along with Northern Ireland Screen we want to develop the creative talent that exists in Northern Ireland and make it a new force in broadcasting."

Northern Ireland Screen Chairwoman, Rotha Johnston, said: “Today marks a significant stage in the development of the Northern Ireland screen industry and underlines the importance of a joint approach to its future strategy. This partnership agreement is a clear substantiation of the wholesale commitment of the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen to invest financially and creatively in continuing to develop an internationally competitive screen industry in Northern Ireland."

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