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BBC reveals £150m cuts to address shifting viewing habits

The BBC on Wednesday outlined budget cuts of £150 million ($228 million, 213 million euros) that threaten its sports coverage as it addresses a shortfall worsened by falling television ownership.

world Updated: Nov 18, 2015 20:59 IST
This file picture shows people walking past an entrance to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Television offices in west London.
This file picture shows people walking past an entrance to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Television offices in west London.(AFP Photo)

The BBC on Wednesday outlined budget cuts of £150 million ($228 million, 213 million euros) that threaten its sports coverage as it addresses a shortfall worsened by falling television ownership.

“The BBC has and is doing everything possible to make sure the impact on the public is minimised. Wherever possible we’re targeting savings by creating a simpler, leaner BBC,” said Director-General Tony Hall.

“No director-general wants to announce reduced spending on services that the public love. This is very tough, but the BBC’s financial position means there is no alternative.”

Some £50 million of the savings will come from streamlining, meaning fewer divisions and senior managers, and are part of cuts announced earlier this year that will lead to 1,000 job losses by 2017.

Another £35 million will be saved from the BBC’s sports-rights budget, which it anticipates will lead to the “loss of some existing rights and events.”

It has already ended its coverage of golf’s British Open and now shares Six Nations rugby coverage with ITV, although its flagship Match of the Day football highlights programme is not under threat.

Formula One, athletics and snooker are all likely to come in for scrutiny.

Drama will be protected and its massive news service faces a cut of only £5 million.

A range of other genres including factual, comedy and entertainment face cuts totalling £12 million.

The broadcaster recently lost the rights to popular talent show “The Voice”, and said it will use the savings “to develop new, home-grown formats”.

The £150 million is part of £700 million overall savings the BBC must find as it grapples with the rise of online services at the expense of television ownership.

Details of the remaining £550 million savings will be made early next year.

“These are likely to include broad service and major structural changes to how the BBC works and fulfils its mission to inform, educate, and entertain,” it said in a statement.

The BBC announced 1,000 job cuts in July and said it would pay for free television licences for over-65s which have previously been funded by the government.

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the Bectu union, said Wednesday: “We will oppose any compulsory redundancies.”

The public broadcaster is currently funded through the annual licence fee of £145.50, which all British households with a television have to pay.

This raises over £3.7 billion per year.