Content cuts to help keep BBC on track to save £1 billion a year
The BBC were on track to save £1 billion this year due to cuts in content and scope of services, a National Audit Office report found.
The Corporation has reduced the amount of broadcast television it offers licence fee payers and the volume of repeats shown across the BBC’s three main television channels has increased, the NAO revealed.
There was a 22% increase in repeat programming on BBC 1, which was said to be a part of the BBC’s strategy for addressing a change in audience viewing habits while working within a finite budget.
Until recently, the Corporation has tried to limit reductions in the TV and radio content it offers.
However, in September 2021, the BBC estimated that 41% of its annual savings would come from cuts to content and the scope of services.
The forecast also suggested that 12% of its savings would come from income generation and 11% from changes to the scheduling mix.
But the BBC has increased accessibility to content by extending the time that programmes are available on iPlayer and launching BBC Sounds, the NAO said.
In the report, it said the BBC is forecast to exceed its original savings target of £800 million and is on track to meet its increased target of £1 billion a year.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “Over the past decade the BBC has consistently made savings and is largely on course to achieve its £1 billion annual savings target by 2021-22.
“However, over the coming years it will need to make significant further savings at the same time as addressing a range of other challenges, not least its declining audience share.
“The BBC must ensure its savings plans do not further erode its position with audiences.”
The report also found that the BBC plan to embark on a new savings programme in 2022 to 2023 which would require further reductions to content and services across its television, radio, and news operations.
However, the Corporation is negotiating with the Government on the level of the licence fee from next year and the outcome could significantly increase the savings it will need to deliver.
A statement from the BBC said: “The NAO report concludes the BBC has made nearly £1 billion in savings over the last five years – significantly higher than our initial £800 million target – and continues to be the UK’s most-used media organisation.
“We will continue to focus on modernising, improving efficiency and prioritising spending on a range of high quality content to ensure value for money for all licence fee payers.”