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BBC Four and CBBC will end as linear TV channels and the BBC will cut up to 1,000 jobs over the next few years, it has announced in major cash-saving plans.
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’.
As part of the shake-up, BBC World News and BBC News Channel will merge to create a single 24-hour TV news channel serving both UK and international audiences.
Regional TV news programmes in Oxford and Cambridge are also among the services being scrapped as part of the ‘blueprint to build a digital-first public service media organisation’.
The plans being proposed form changes to the BBC’s content and services which it says will save £500million in its first phase.
The corporation needs to save an additional £285million after the Culture Secretary announced the licence fee would be frozen for the next two years and scrapped by 2027.
As part of plans to become ‘digital first’ broadcaster, the BBC said it will cut up to 1,000 jobs from the public-funded part of the BBC over the next few years.
Shake-up: BBC Four and CBBC will end as linear TV channels and the corporation will cut up to 1,000 jobs from the publicly funded part of the BBC over the next few years, it has announced
Earlier today, the BBC announced plans to scrap its regional TV news programme in Oxford.
South Today in Oxford, which employs 18 staff, will end in November and merge with the regional programme from Southampton, a report on the BBC website said.
Shake-up: Changes coming to the BBC
- Up to 1,000 job cuts over the next few years
- BBC World News and the BBC News channel will merge to create a single 24-hour TV news channel serving both UK and international audiences
- Plans to stop broadcasting channels including CBBC and BBC Four as well as BBC Radio 4 Xtra
- Changes to local radio and regional news with TV news programmes in Oxford and Cambridge the first to face the axe
- Plans to stop scheduling separate content for Radio 4 Long Wave
- Requesting Ofcom to remove regulatory restrictions on iPlayer to expand boxsets and archive content
- Reviewing commercial options for audio production, which could mean some podcasts are produced by the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Studios
In an email sent to BBC England staff and referenced in the piece, BBC Nations director Rhodri Talfan Davies said the decision was made ‘against the backdrop of a licence fee settlement that is frozen over the next two years’.
According to the Press Gazette, the broadcaster’s Look East Cambridge operation is also set to be axed in November with all coverage of the region being moved to the BBC’s base in Norwich. One source said the news had gone down like a ‘lead balloon’.
BBC World News and the BBC News channel will merge to create a single 24-hour TV news channel serving both UK and international audiences.
The channel, which will be called BBC News, will ‘offer greater amounts of shared content’, according to the broadcaster, but with the ability to offer separate broadcasts depending on what is happening in the UK and abroad.
Announcing the overhaul, Director-General Tim Davie told staff today: ‘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.’
As well as plans to cease broadcasting of CBBC and BBC Four, the corporation has said Radio 4 Extra will also get the axe.
There will also be ‘ongoing work to strip out any unnecessary bureaucracy, reduce running costs and simplify ways of working’.
Mr Davie added: ‘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.
Major changes: In a speech to staff this afternoon, Director-General Tim Davie (pictured above) said the BBC ‘must reform to stay relevant and continue to provide great value for all’
‘To do that we need to evolve faster and embrace the huge shifts in the market around us.’
The BBC said work on the changes will start immediately, with further details to be announced in the coming months, including consultations with staff.
Mr Davie added: ‘I believe in a public service BBC for all, properly funded, relevant for everyone, universally available, and growing in the on-demand age. This plan sets us on that journey.’
The BBC said that £200million of savings will ‘contribute to the £285million annual funding gap by 2027/2028, created by the licence fee settlement earlier this year’.
Earlier this year, it was suggested the BBC would have to make deep cuts to its programme budgets after the government said the broadcaster’s funding would be frozen for the next two years, with the licence fee abolished completely in 2027.
It has already undergone a series of rounds of redundancies and cuts over the past decade prompted by below-inflation increases in the licence fee.
Pictured: BBC Four, which is home to BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician, was launched in 2002 and has traditionally shown mainly arts and documentary content
‘These proposals would have a negative impact upon independent local news providers’
The News Media Association (NMA) has described the BBC’s proposal to boost its own local news services as ‘misguided’ as it feels it will have a ‘profoundly negative impact’ on independent local news providers.
This comes as the corporation announced a number of plans in its mid-term review.
Owen Meredith, chief executive of the UK’s news media trade group, said: ‘It is disappointing that the BBC has not taken the opportunity presented to it by the licence fee funding settlement to step back from its misguided plans to boost its own local news services, in direct competition with commercial providers.
‘If they go ahead, these proposals would have a profoundly negative impact upon independent local news providers, resulting in a weakening of local news provision in this country.
‘The Government has confirmed today that it will look specifically at the issue of the BBC’s impact on local news media as part of the mid-term review, and the NMA and our members will engage fully in this process.’
He added that the NMA welcomed the BBC’s renewed commitment to funding the Local News Partnership for the duration of the current charter.
Mr Meredith urged the corporation to look at models such as this which ‘partner’ with the local news sector, rather than ‘compete with it’.
Mr Davie, who took over from Lord Tony Hall as BBC director-general in September 2020, has overseen a slimming down of the corporation since starting in the role, with the BBC losing some 1,200 staff in the last 18 months.
BBC Four, which is home to BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician, was launched in 2002 and has traditionally shown mainly arts and documentary content, as well as various international dramas.
However, last year the corporation announced it would become the ‘home’ of archived content and that it would broadcast fewer original programmes.
The BBC did not say whether BBC Four, as well as CBBC and Radio 4 Extra, would eventually move online to the iPlayer service.
It added that it also plans to invest £300million to drive its digital-first approach.
Philippa Childs, head of broadcasting union Bectu, said: ‘We recognise the need for organisations to change and adapt and welcome the BBC’s commitment to step up to the challenges of a changing media landscape and build a digital-first corporation.
‘However, once again we see the impact of poorly judged political decisions on workers as the Government’s decision to freeze the licence fee has instigated these real-term job cuts.
‘This announcement lays bare that below the political shrill about the BBC is the reality – hugely talented and dedicated people who work hard to deliver critical services to the nation and beyond are now facing yet more job losses and continued uncertainty.
‘Bectu will fully engage in every aspect of these proposals and we will be doing everything we can to support our members.
‘We will be working to ensure that change is not cost cutting for the sake of it, but truly does position the BBC strongly for the future and delivers the best possible outcomes for members.’
The dramatic action plan comes as culture secretary Nadine Dorries issued a legal direction to the BBC to ‘promote equality of opportunity’ for people from working-class backgrounds
Earlier on Thursday, the Culture Secretary issued the BBC with a legal direction ordering it to ‘promote equality of opportunity’ for people from working-class backgrounds.
The stipulation came as part of the mid-term review into its royal charter and includes a target for 25 per cent of staff to be from low socio-economic backgrounds and ensuring 50 per cent of radio and 60 per cent of TV programme production spend is outside London by the end of 2027.
The BBC must also deliver 1,000 apprenticeships per year by 2025 and ensure that 30% of those are from low socio-economic groups.
The corporation also faces uncertainty over the future of the licence fee after Nadine Dorries announced a consultation about the future funding of the broadcaster will begin shortly.
The minister has said she wants to find a new funding model before the current deal expires in 2027 as it is ‘completely outdated’.
Horrible Histories, Blue Peter and Newsround: how CBBC grew from a ‘Broom Cupboard’ in the 1980s to its own channel
The CBBC channel was launched in February 2002 alongside its sister channel CBeebies and has repeatedly been named Channel of the Year at the Children’s BAFTA awards.
Prior to the channel’s launch, the name CBBC had long been used as a collective term for the corporation’s children’s content.
The BBC has been responsible for a number of iconic children’s programmes which over the years have become household names.
Blue Peter is the longest-lived and best-known, now over 50 years old and going strong.
In September 1985, Phillip Schofield presented the first slot for the all-new Children’s BBC, a programming block on the existing BBC channel.
His introductions to the programmes came from a tiny control desk, dubbed the Broom Cupboard.
The CBBC channel itself was launched in 2002 and continues to offer children’s programming from 7am to 7pm.
Among its most popular TV shows are The Story of Tracy Beaker, Horrible Histories and the Sarah Jane Adventures. It also home to children’s current affairs programme Newsround.
Programming for Friday May 27 on CBBC
7.00 – Danger Mouse
7.10 – Danger Mouse
7.20 – Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed!
7.35 – Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese
7.45 – Newsround
8.00 – Ninja Express
8.10 – Odd Squad
8.25 – Deadly Dinosaurs with Steve Backshall
8.50 – Hey you what if?
9.00 – Bitesize Daily: 9-11 year olds
9.20 – Bitesize Daily: 9-11 year olds
9.40 – Operation Ouch!
9.55 – Celebrity Supply Teacher
10.05 – Our School
10.25 – DIY Deadly with Steve Backshall
10.40 – Horrible Histories
11.08 – Deadly 60
11.10 – Operation Ouch
11.40 – Class Dismissed
11.55 – Danger Mouse
12.05 – Danger Mouse
12.20 – Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese
12.30 – Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese
12.40 – Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed!
12.55 – Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed!
13.05 – Young Dracula
13.35 – Young Dracula
14.00 – Dodger
14.45 – The Zoo
1500 – Operation Ouch!
1530 – Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed!
15.40 – Danger Mouse
15.55 – Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese
1605 – Ninja Express
1620 – Danger Mouse
1630 – Danger Mouse
1645 – Odd Squad
1700 – Blue Peter
1730 – Deadly Predators
18.00 – So Awkward
18.30 – Lifebabble
18.35 – The Next Step
BBC Four: home of BBC Proms and BBC Young Musician which also aired Scandi-noir hits like The Killing
BBC Four launched in March 2002 at 7pm with slogan ‘everybody needs a place to think’ and began originally as a late schedule to BBC.
According to the corporation, it became the home of ‘intelligent programming’ after initially overcoming concerns about the size of its audience.
The channel is now home to BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician and has traditionally shown mainly arts and documentary content, as well as various international dramas including the Danish police thriller The Killing.
Programming for Friday May 27 on BBC Four
19.00 – Tony Bennett – BBC Four Session
20.00 – Top of the Pops
21.00 – Jeff Buckley: Everybody Here Wants You
22.00 – Popular Voices at the BBC
23.00 – Gregory Porter’s Popular Voices
00.00 – The Old Grey Whistle Test
00.40 – Top of the Pops
01.40 – Jeff Buckley: Everybody Here Wants You
02.40 – Tony Bennett – BBC Four Session