Future BBC savings will require cheaper shows, listeners say | BBC

The BBC could be forced to replace high-end drama and expensive natural history shows with cheaper programs due to government-imposed cuts.

The broadcaster is required to make significant and ongoing spending cuts as successive Conservative governments slash its royalty revenues, according to a report by the National Audit Office. At the same time, the cost of producing hit shows like Line of Duty and David Attenborough’s nature shows has risen rapidly, with competition from Netflix and Amazon driving up the prices for talent and studios.

The BBC will also likely cover fewer sporting events in the coming years due to rising costs and shrinking budgets. It has already dropped its coverage in Formula 1 and reduced the number of Six Nations rugby matches it broadcasts.

In the future, channels such as BBC Two and BBC Four will operate with significantly reduced budgets, often showing reruns, with the money being diverted to shows for BBC One and BBC Three.

Meg Hillier, chairman of the select public accounts committee, said upcoming cuts to on-air programming may make people less willing to pay the £ 159 per year license fee.

“Almost half of the expected savings will come from the reduction in the number of programs [the BBC] done, which means it will have to produce more reps to fill the TV shows, ”she said. “The BBC faces a formidable challenge in the battle for viewers. He should be wary of the risk that the reduction in content will lead even more people to jump ship and choose not to pay the license fees. “

The BBC was forced to cut spending by a billion pounds a year between 2017 and 2022 following a license fee regulation imposed in the summer of 2015 by then-Chancellor George Osborne .

So far, most of these savings have been achieved by reducing behind-the-scenes personnel expenses and improving productivity. Now the National Audit Office says there is little left to do behind the scenes, which means future savings for the BBC will have to come from program budgets and the company’s news division. These changes are much more likely to be noticed by the public.

Popular shows are also at risk of being canceled if the BBC thinks the money could be better spent elsewhere to reach younger or diverse audiences who have deserted the national broadcaster. As long-running drama Holby City continued to attract large audiences, it was canceled as it was mostly about people who were already consuming other BBC content.

According to the BBC, the cost of producing an hour of drama increased by around 20% from 2015-16 to 2019-2020, and the pandemic has since increased production costs by an additional 10-30%.

Hundreds of BBC journalists have been sacked as part of an ongoing restructuring of the news division. The report highlights how this has caused a drop in morale among staff, with reporters bracing for another round of cuts.

Ministers have yet to agree on how much the BBC can charge for licensing fees from April 2022. A funding deal had been reached until the appointment of a new Culture Secretary , Nadine Dorries, forced a reassessment. No settlements are expected this side of Christmas, giving the company just a few months to prepare audiences for a possible fee hike – and work out which shows will need to be cut for budget reasons.

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