The Great British Bake Off has moved to Channel 4, and fans are worried that the new deal will mean there is no full series of Bake Off in 2017.
Channel 4 have only so far confirmed that they will show a ‘celebrity special’ next year, after it emerged that the BBC Bake Off contract included a so-called “cooling off clause” that prevented any new broadcaster showing a full series until 2018.
However, viewers anxious for Bake Off news can breathe a small sigh of relief: the BBC is almost certain not to invoke their right to stop the series being show in full on Channel 4 next year.
Sources close to the negotiations with creators Love Productions have suggested that the BBC is unlikely to use its Bake Off veto.
One industry expert added: “This is a red herring – the cooling off clause is a technical clause in a contract which is all about getting a negotiating window for a new deal. It is highly unlikely that the BBC would invoke it.”
More Bake Off debate in this week’s Radio Times podcast – listen below…
The negative PR the BBC is likely to attract if it stops Channel 4 showing the full series is also likely to be a factor in it not implementing the clause, it is believed.
However Channel 4 has still not announced that it will be showing a full series next year, after announcing last night that it had scooped the rights to the show.
C4 has only confirmed that it will air a celebrity edition of the show in aid of Stand Up to Cancer and has not said when this will air. Stand Up to Cancer normally airs in October.
The broadcaster also still needs to secure the services of the show’s main judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry after Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins sensationally announced they were quitting.
The presenters are contracted separately by the producers and so far have given no indication whether they will stay with the show when it moves to Channel 4.
According to BBC insiders, the Corporation fought hard to keep the show and offered what RadioTimes.com understands was £15m a year for the rights to keep it.
This fee is the “tariff” which covers the whole cost of the show, and is what the BBC pays to Love to deliver a full series of the programme. It is understood that the producers pays the talent salaries out of this sum.
According to insiders close to the negotiations, Love demanded £25m a year from the BBC, which is believed to be close to the figure that Channel 4 is paying for the rights to this programme.
RadioTimes.com also understands that ITV did not offer a formal bid for the show as the broadcaster was reluctant to acquire a show without a guarantee that the existing presenter line-up was in place.
It is also understood that C4 is considering making the show one hour 15 minutes or even 90 minutes long in the schedule in order to keep all facets of the format in place.
The commercial broadcaster needs to show ad breaks. But because a “Channel 4 hour” runs to around 45 minutes of programme time, a longer run is required if the show is not to be tampered with.
A C4 spokesman confirmed: “We are not planning to change the format”.
There is understood to be considerable ill feeling inside the BBC over the decision by Love to move the show to Channel 4.
Insiders say that the Corporation “nurtured” the programme and was a “full and willing partner” in its success over seven series.
Also it is understood that the BBC are uncomfortable about the speed with which Channel 4 was able to announce its deal with Love minutes after the BBC released a statement saying it could not reach a deal.
“The suggestion that Channel 4 was talking to Love while we were negotiating a new contract is a difficult one to swallow,” said one insider.
Channel 4 declined to say how it reached its deal with Love. It said it was aware of the difficulties between the BBC and Love and formally signed its deal last night.
A C4 source said that the once the deal with the BBC fell through, C4 stepped in and is able now to preserve the future of the show on free-to-air television.