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BBC confirms service cuts, 6 Music and Asian Network face the axe

by Parm Mann on 2 March 2010, 13:06

Tags: BBC

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Following high-profile leaks late last week, the BBC has today confirmed that it plans to cut back on services as part of the corporation-wide strategic review.

The controversial strategy review - now in the hands of the BBC Trust where it faces a 12 week consultation - reveals the corporation's plans to put quality first, with an emphasis on "a more focused BBC doing fewer things better," according to BBC director general Mark Thompson.

Mr Thompson claims that in future 90p of every licence fee pound will be spent on core programming, with BBC Two's budget set to increase by £25m and a further £600m being made available to the development of "high-quality" programmes as a result of cuts elsewhere. These include the closure of two radio stations - 6 Music and the Asian Network - by the end of 2011.

The BBC's strategic review suggests that 6 Music provides "relatively few unique listeners to BBC radio", and concludes that "the most effective and efficient way to deliver popular music on radio" is to focus investment on its core networks, Radio 1 and Radio 2.

Proposed radio shake-ups also include changes for Radio 7 - a station which the BBC would like to see united with Radio 4, eventually "culminating in the rebranding of the station as 'Radio 4 Extra".

Teenage services BBC Switch and Blast! also face the axe.

In terms of TV content, the BBC review suggests that the budget for imported overseas programming be reduced by 20 per cent, and that spending on sports rights be capped at 9p from every license fee pound.

Drastic cuts are also in store for the BBC's expansive library of online services. The corporation plans to reduce its online output by 50 per cent, a move that will result in staff cuts and a reduction in budget of up to 25 per cent.

The corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, is also expected to be ordered to focus its attention on overseas activities and shut down its British magazines arm. A move that could spell the end for popular magazines such as The Radio Times, Gardeners' World and Top Gear.

Director general Mark Thompson claims the drastic shake up will refocus the corporation on its primary mission: "to inform, educate and entertain audiences with programmes and services of high quality, originality and value".

Looking ahead, Thompson adds that the BBC will invest the license fee around five clear priorities: "the best journalism in the world", "inspiring knowledge, music and culture", "ambitious UK drama and comedy", "outstanding children's content" and "events that bring communities and the nation together".

However, following the premature leaks last week, the BBC has faced stern criticism over its plans to shut down certain services. Over 80,000 people have already signed an internet petition to save 6 Music, and the BBC has today been accused of attempting to appease commercial and political interests.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists has stated that "if the BBC has to look at savings, they should tackle executive pay rather than programmes or content."

"Hard-working staff shouldn't be used as a political football and we will fight any compulsory redundancies," said Dear in a statement.

Similarly, Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the broadcasting workers' union Bectu, has claimed that the BBC's proposed cuts are "totally unnecessary and are purely politically motivated".

The BBC's complete Strategy Review is available to download in .PDF format here.

HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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I blody hope 6music doesn't go, its one of my favourite stations!
So the BBC wants to cut channels in order to focus on quality and public service rather than ratings and obvious commercial overlap. So they cut quality (6) and public service radio (asian net). However they keep BBC3 and Radio 1 that have obvious commercial overlap.

They will also cut Top Gear magazine, that whilst it isn't niche does bring in money for public service broadcasting.

The words sound great: more quality, less tat, refocusing on public service, savings toward the previous
Reallity: hacking out quality, keeping obvious overlap, removing money generating enterprises that help pay for programming

They aren't doing this for us, they are doing this for Murdock!
What they should be doing is cutting back on all the high paid executives who continue to leech our TV license fee's, rather than its services.
What they should be doing is cutting back on all the high paid executives who continue to leech our TV license fee's, rather than its services.
+1 on that.
and cut back on the appalling, over-priced crap series they seem to be commissioning…….Robin Hood and Merlin spring to mind….