British Broadcasting Corporation director general Mark Thompson announced the BBC will cut its budget and slash 2,000 jobs between now and April 2017. The cuts are in reaction to the 2010 government decision to freeze the broadcaster’s television licensing fee through 2016-2017. It also comes after more than £1 billion in cuts since 2008.
Thompson said the cuts will resolute in a small, reshaped BBC.
The 2,000 cuts will be spread out over the next five years and account for 1% of the BBC’s staff. An additional, 1,000 employees will be moved to Salford, which will be the new home of BBC Three in 2016. Over the course of the next five years, a total of 20% of the BBC’s budget will be cut.
BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas commented on bbc.co.uk, “Most of the savings are due to come from finding cheaper ways of working, through new technology, job cuts and new terms and conditions for BBC staff.”
Budget cuts will also dramatically affect programming. A summary of the major programming changes:
- Funding for original programming will be reduced. More reruns will be aired of comedies and dramas. Funding for educational programming will be increased.
- The sports budget will be cut by 15%, and broadcast rights to Formula One auto racing will be shared with Sky Broadcasting Group.
- BBC One will no longer broad in high definition. BBC Two will be the only station broadcast in HD.
- BBC News Channel will offer less coverage or arts, culture and science and more coverage of breaking news.
- Funding for BBC radio stations will also be cut.
- No television or radio stations are slated to close. Children’s programming will remain unchanged.
Reaction To The Cuts
Reactions to the budget cuts has been predominately negative, with most believing it will hamper the BBC’s ability to provide quality programming.
Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the technicians union Bectu, told the BBC: “It's not for me to say which service should go, but to actually say that viewers will not know the difference is not true. There is going to be a huge deterioration in quality.”
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary for the National Union of Journalists said to the BBC: “The reality is that the BBC will not be the same organization if these cuts go ahead. You cannot reduce budgets by 20% and pretend that everything is the same. It won't be.”
More budget cuts may come in 2014, when the BBC World Service stops being funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and begins to be funded by licensing fees. Thompson commented addition cuts would result in the loss of services, quality or both.
Key Facts – BBC Strategy to 2017 (source: BBC.co.uk, The Guardian)
- Programming during BBC1 and BBC2’s peak programming time will not suffer noticeable cuts. BBC1’s budget to be cut by 3%. It will also become the home of daytime programming.
- At lunchtime, BBC2's daytime schedule will feature international news and current affairs, repeats of factual programming and live sports programming.
- BBC3 and BBC4 will not be considered to be "supporting" the main channels; BBC3 will be a "place to nurture talent for BBC1".
- BBC2 HD will replace BBC1 HD.
- There will be a 34% cut in the amount spent on content to The Asian Network.
- Radio 6 Music will face a 2.6% cut.