Ben Stephenson criticises Sky over Drama

Ben Stephenson, the BBC’s head of drama, has criticised Sky for its claims to be committed to UK drama when it spends more on buying programmes from America.

Sky’s recent PR push concerning ‘home-grown’ drama and comedy hasn’t cut the mustard with the beeb drama exec.

“I particularly enjoyed a headline that said that Sky’s recent investment in drama was ‘another nail in the coffin for free-to-air drama’,” he noted to RadioTimes. “This was a statement that surprised me, and I am sure my friends at ITV and Channel 4, considering that while their investment is welcome, it’s only £30 million – a figure dwarfed by the couple of hundred million the BBC spends on original drama and the many hundreds of millions Sky spends on buying foreign shows.”

Sky is spending millions on acquiring drama from America such as its recent deals with HBO for its backlog and acquiring AMC’s hit Mad Men from the BBC. However, the broadcaster does air some home-grown content such as new detective drama Thorne starring David Morrissey. Sky shows that are no longer a part of the schedules but were of UK origin include Hex, Dream Team and Mile High.

Sky’s recent comments on free-to-air TV and pledge to produce more drama and arts programming has been seen as an attack on the BBC. However, Stephenson isn’t worried citing BBC hits such as Five Days and Sherlock as proof the beeb can hold its own.