BBC cutting spend on imports, reining in Worldwide

UK public broadcaster the BBC wants to reduce its spending on imported programming and enforce rules curbing the activities of its commercial arm BBC Worldwide. It is proposing a 20% cut in programming spend and a cap at 2.5p per license fee pound thereafter.

“Audiences expect the BBC’s drama and comedy to continue to reach new heights, and the popularity of imported US drama is creating higher quality benchmarks,” the report noted. It added: “In many ways the BBC is already responding to these challenges, with new and high-quality dramas on BBC One (e.g., Occupation, Criminal Justice) as well as fresh approaches on BBC Three (e.g., Being Human).”

The BBC Trust, which oversees the activities of the BBC, published its strategy review for re-shaping the BBC today. There is now a 12-week consultation period in which interested parties can comment on the proposals.

The report also calls for the proposals in the recent BBC Trust review of BBC Worldwide’s activities to be fully implemented “with new limits on acquisitions and a drive towards non-UK activities.”

With reference to Worldwide the report said it still has a role to play but must fulfill its remit ‘by moving to a more international focus, deriving at least two-thirds of its revenue from outside the UK by 2015’ and ‘looking to move away from physical media (such as magazines) in the UK.’

The report’s authors noted that Worldwide is already developing a new strategy to refocus its business more internationally. It added that Worldwide’s future growth will be largely organic with stricter guidelines applied to M&A activity.

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