July 9, 2015
The British Broadcasting Corporation is facing it’s second round of cuts in the last five years.
As part of a new five-year license fee deal, the BBC will have to cover the licensing fees for citizens 75 years old and older, a £145.50 ($285 CAD) license fee. The new deal will be phased in with the next parliament, starting in 2018. The annual cost of that move is forecast to hit £650m ($1.2 billion CAD) by 2020-21.
The annual fee has been frozen since 2010. The license fee is currently worth £3.6 billion ($7 billion CAD) a year.
Many have criticized the cuts to funding, as well as the lack of public consultation.
Many argue that the cuts will threaten not just the quality of BBC programming (shows like “Doctor Who,” “Sherlock” and “Wolf Hall,”) but the rest of the TV ecosystem and the UK’s entire creative sector.
“When we’ve looked at the numbers before, it is the BBC that is the real pillar of the public service broadcast system. If you reduce the BBC spend it has a mirror effect across the other broadcasters and you see not just a reduction of spending, but you see a potential reduction of quality. We very much would want a limited reduction, and actually we’ve been campaigning for increase” said Pact chair Laura Mansfield.
There cuts are especially concerning to smaller producers, the BBC increased its spending with indie producers in 2013-14, and the corporation has also increased the proportion of its external commissioning budget on new commissions from 34% to 46%.
The only hope is that BBC will focus any cuts on areas other than content budgets to avoid piling further pressure on production companies. Children’s TV is an area of particular concern, as the BBC is the only broadcaster spending any significant amount on commissioning children’s shows from UK producers.