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BBC services and content to be cut as the corporation reveals plans for a ‘digital-first’ future


BBC services and content to be cut as the corporation reveals plans for a ‘digital-first’ future

CBBC, BBC Four and Radio 4 Extra will move online, while BBC World News will be merged with the BBC News channel.

In a speech to staff this afternoon, Director-General Tim Davie said the BBC must reform to stay relevant and continue to provide great value for all. This will include changes to content and services, efficiency savings and a drive to seek new commercial investment.

There will be less emphasis on linear in line with current trends, giving audiences the content they want and delivering it to them in the ways they want it.

‘When it comes to network TV, we will reduce the volume of hours we commission a year by around 200,” Davie said.

He added that this is reduction in hours would place less pressure on programme budgets and that money would instead be focused on areas that are ‘distinctive and uniquely BBC’.

“We will make tough choices about titles which may be performing on linear but are not doing enough to drive viewers to on-demand,” he said.

Davie said that the plan is to create ‘a modern, digital-led and streamlined organisation’ that would get the most out of the licence fee and deliver more for audiences.

This includes:

• Shifting significant amounts of money into new programmes for iPlayer which will also attract extra third-party investment on screen

• Shifting resources in local output towards digital, while keeping spend flat

• Making savings in broadcast news, reinvesting that in video and digital news

• Investing up to £50m a year in product development.

Overall, there will be up to 1,000 fewer people employed in the public-funded part of the BBC over the next few years.

“When I took this job I said that we needed to fight for something important: public service content and services, freely available universally, for the good of all. This fight is intensifying; the stakes are high.” – Tim Davie

Specific changes announced today include:

• The creation of a single, 24-hour TV news channel serving UK and international audiences, called BBC News, offering greater amounts of shared content, but maintaining the ability to offer separate broadcasts depending on what’s happening at home and abroad;

• Plans to stop broadcasting smaller linear channels, such as CBBC and BBC Four and Radio 4 Extra, after the next few years;

• Ongoing work to strip out any unnecessary bureaucracy, reduce running costs and simplify ways of working to free up time;

• Plans to stop scheduling separate content for Radio 4 Long Wave, consulting with partners, including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, ahead of the closure of the Long Wave platform itself;

• Shifting a number of World Service languages to be digital only;

• An ambition to reach 75% of BBC viewers through iPlayer each week;

• Reviewing commercial options for audio production;

• New on-demand content and formats for news and current affairs;

• Requesting Ofcom to remove regulatory restrictions on iPlayer to expand boxsets and archive content;

• Bigger investment in programming from the nations and regions across the UK;

• Investment in an enhanced news and current affairs offer for iPlayer and Sounds, with new video formats, simulcasts and podcasts;

• Changes in local radio and regional news to ensure high-quality, distinctive BBC local journalism is available every day when and where audiences want it;

• Plans to accelerate digital growth in audio and drive listeners to BBC Sounds, simplifying schedules and cancelling shows that do not deliver;

• Further investment in data to ensure comprehensive, real-time data that supports growth of digital products and services.

“This is our moment to build a digital-first BBC. Something genuinely new, a Reithian organisation for the digital age, a positive force for the UK and the world.

“Independent, impartial, constantly innovating and serving all. A fresh, new, global digital media organisation which has never been seen before.

“Driven by the desire to make life and society better for our licence fee payers and customers in every corner of the UK and beyond. They want us to keep the BBC relevant and fight for something that in 2022 is more important than ever.

“To do that we need to evolve faster and embrace the huge shifts in the market around us.” – Tim Davie

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