Numerous BBC TV channels, including BBC Four, face the axe. BBC Director General Tim Davie told staff there will be cuts worth hundreds of million pounds a year.
The effect of the recent licence fee freeze is being made manifest by today’s announcement. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries ordered a two year freeze followed by the end of the licence fee by 2027.
Even without that announcement, BBC boss Tim Davie had previously signalled he wanted to change the focus of the BBC to make it more agile. Changes to how viewers and listeners consume programmes has changed massively over the pandemic, with record numbers signing up for streaming services.
At the same time, fewer viewers are watching traditional live channels.
Despite this trend, and reassuringly for older audiences who prefer live channels, the BBC’s plans do safeguard its core BBC broadcast channels for the foreseeable future.
According to the Director General, the cuts are part of a £500million savings and reinvestment plan. This is made up of two things: £200m a year of cuts which are necessitated by the two-year licence fee freeze. This represents the majority of our £285m a year challenge by 2027/28. £50m of this £200m is already baked into our current budgets. The rest is delivered by stopping things and running the organisation differently. Then there’s a further £300m a year which is about moving money around the organisation and delivering additional commercial income.
As part of the cuts, there will be 1,000 fewer staff working for the public sector part of the BBC.
The BBC’s commercial arm – BBC Studios – is not within the scope of the announcements made today.
Aidan Smith, RXTV Editor