UK public broadcaster the BBC is making further operational cuts in a bid to make savings of around £670 million (US$1.03 billion) a year by 2016/17, unveiling proposals which will mean a loss of around 2,000 jobs across the Corporation.
The proposals come after a nine-month consultation process with staff called Delivering Quality First (DQF), and follow the license fee settlement agreed with the UK government in October last year.
That settlement saw the license fee – from which the BBC is funded – frozen until 2017, and the BBC assuming new funding responsibilities, including for the World Service, S4C, BBC Monitoring and local TV and broadband.
BBC director-general Mark Thompson said that the cuts represented “the last time the BBC will be able to make this level of savings” without seriously damaging the quality of its programming.
“This is a plan which puts quality and creativity first,” he said. “It’s a plan for a smaller BBC, but a BBC which uses its resources more effectively and collaboratively to deliver a full range of services to the public. The plan meets the savings target we agreed in last year’s license-fee settlement, but also identifies nearly £150 million per year to invest in new high quality output and in the platforms and services of the future.
“But it is a plan which also means stretching efficiencies and significant job losses. It’s my judgment that this is the last time the BBC will be able to make this level of savings without a substantial loss of services or quality or both.”
While the move will predominantly affect staff at the organization, the cuts will have some effect on programming. Flagship terrestrial channels BBC1 and BBC2 will see “small reductions in entertainment programming and acquisitions” budgets, with BBC1 becoming the channel for all new general daytime programs.
BBC2′s daytime schedule will change to feature international news and current affairs programs at lunchtime, while other parts of the daytime schedule will air repeats of mainly factual titles, including science, history, natural history and arts, as well as live sport.
BBC3 and BBC4 will be re-focused to play supporting roles for the two bigger channels, and the existing BBC HD channel will be replaced with an HD version of BBC2 to broadcast alongside the existing BBC1 HD channel.
Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said: “The BBC is far from perfect, but it is a great institution and, at its best, a great broadcaster. We have a tough and challenging new license fee settlement, but it should still be possible to run an outstanding broadcaster on £3.5 billion a year.
“The Trust’s view has been clear from the start of this process – the BBC must look to run itself as efficiently as possible before we consider cutting services. Over half of the savings announced today will come from changes to operations, but there will need to be some changes to services, and we now need to test BBC management’s proposals for this.
“We agree with the direction that the director-general has taken, but we want to hear what the public think, as it is ultimately their BBC.”
The news comes after the BBC earlier this year unveiled major cuts to its online division and to the BBC World Service, as previously reported.