Radical reform to deliver a more focused BBC
The BBC today unveiled a radical programme of reform which means it will continue to deliver the highest quality content to audiences but will also make it available when and how they want it.
Following approval by the BBC Trust, the six-year plan will deliver a smaller but fitter organisation. Every part of the BBC will be required to make efficiency savings, with every penny freed up reinvested in high quality, distinctive content and the way audiences consume it.
The plan, Delivering Creative Future, rests on three fundamental propositions:
* A focus on quality – to provide fewer but better, more innovative and more distinctive programmes.
* A digital step change – to offer audiences programmes wherever and whenever they want them – from iPlayer to My BBC Radio, audiences will be able to find, play and share BBC content. To help deliver this ambition, largely separate TV, radio and web news operations will integrate into one of the world’s most advanced multimedia newsrooms.
* A smaller BBC - which will provide best value to audiences.
BBC Director-General Mark Thompson told staff today: "Media is transforming. Audiences are transforming. It would be easy to say that the sheer pace of this revolution is too fast for the BBC.
"That for us to do what other media players are doing – integrating newsrooms, mixing media, exploiting the same content aggressively across different platforms – is just too radical ... but I think we can see both here and around the world the price you pay for taking what looks like the safe option.
“I’ve devoted almost my whole working life to the BBC, much of that not as a suit but as a rank-and-file programme-maker. I love the BBC and what it stands for. I care too much to see it drift steadily into irrelevance.”
Over the next six years, the BBC will focus particularly on enhancing quality output in Journalism, Drama, Knowledge and Comedy programming:
* Journalism: the BBC will develop enhanced on-demand news, sport and local information services for the digital age, with major new investment, promoting convenience, personalisation and participation. It will also build new content for under-served audiences, including a multi-media BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.
BBC News will establish an integrated multi-media newsroom and multi-media programmes department to ensure that BBC News remains world-class and highly valued by audiences. The proportion of content spend that goes to Journalism will go up over the next six years.
Television drama: prioritising high-impact, distinctive drama series of wide appeal and range, from classic drama such as this autumn’s new five-part drama serial Cranford starring Judi Dench to modern drama that captures the imagination of audiences, such as Life On Mars, Doctor Who and Spooks.
Knowledge: producing history, arts, science, religion and natural history landmark programmes which span all platforms and offer greater audience interaction with a strong online presence to support life-long learning.
Comedy: the BBC will continue to be the biggest investor in original comedy in the UK across the portfolio, building on such successes as After You’ve Gone, The Catherine Tate Show and Gavin And Stacey.
* A UK-wide BBC: more production from across the country for the BBC’s UK network, delivered for example through investments in mediacity:UK at Salford and Pacific Quay in Glasgow.
Tough choices have been necessary, against the backdrop of the licence fee settlement, to deliver these plans. From the raft of detailed proposals, the headline efficiency savings and financial reprioritisation decisions approved by the Trust are:
* Meeting demanding efficiency targets of 3% per year for the period.
Making 10% less originated programming in television by 2012/13, cutting lower impact programming to focus on fewer, higher quality, programmes.
A radical reform of factual programme-making to ensure a sustainable in-house production base which will maintain this output at the heart of the BBC.
* In the Journalism group, which includes News, Nations and Regions, Global News and Sport, tackling duplication by bringing services together into a market-leading tri-media news production operation and promoting greater multi-media working.
* A decision, approved separately by the BBC Trust, to reduce the size of the property portfolio in west London by selling BBC Television Centre by the end the financial year 2012/13.
* A range of earlier proposals for new activities amounting to £1.5billion over the next six years have been dropped, including four full new local radio stations, and there have been cuts to the budget for BBC Three (£10million) and its new teen service.
Overall, we estimate that the BBC will make approximately 1,800 redundancies by the end of the period.
The BBC expects to close an estimated 2,500 positions between now and 2012/2013, with the areas of News and Factual production most affected.
The impact on staff will be significantly lessened by fresh investment that will create new jobs and by natural staff turnover.
Summarising what these plans would mean for the BBC by 2012/13, Mark Thompson told staff that “there will be a smaller BBC, but one which packs a bigger punch because it is more focused on quality and the content that really makes a difference to audiences. And it will be a BBC which is fully prepared for digital”.
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