BBC vows to make more cuts in response to government review

Matt Brian
M. Brian|10.08.15

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BBC vows to make more cuts in response to government review

The BBC's Royal Charter isn't due for renewal until the end 2016, but it's already come under fire from the UK government over how it's funded and its perceived public value. Ministers have suggested extending the standard licence fee to include subscriptions and asked whether TV, radio and online services are damaging commercial competitors. This led to Director-General Tony Hall outlining plans for a more "open" BBC last month, but he's back today with a fresh round of commitments (and suggestions) aimed at convincing the public it can do what is asked of it.

You see, the consultation on the government's charter renewal green paper ends tonight. In a 100-page document, the BBC says it will cut costs by another 20 percent over the first five years of the next Charter, having already saved over 40 percent (and cut over 1,000 jobs) in its current period. It also believes extending the Charter to 11 years and stopping rival broadcasters from being able to "contest" licence fee funding (and make their own public service broadcasts) would ensure it stays independent and allow it to continue to deliver a wide range of programming.

In a bid to make more money from its shows, the BBC says it will seek to increase the amount it earns from its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. It aims to grow its "commercial return" in the first five years by 15 percent to £1.2 billion, which could be helped by the launch of a paid US streaming service next year.

"Our programme of reform will ensure the BBC is fit for the internet age, focused on the things that matter to audiences, continues to support the economy and is an unashamed champion of British talent, content and creativity," says Hall. With BBC Three moving online in March 2016, the upcoming launch of a dedicated iPlayer service for kids and a move into music streaming, the BBC is already making good on that promise.

The BBC isn't completely against the government's suggestions, however. It agrees that the loophole which lets Brits consume BBC content via iPlayer without paying a licence fee should be closed. "We look forward to working constructively with the Government in the months ahead to ensure the British public continues to have a BBC they are proud of."

[Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images]

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