BBC on Track to Deliver $1.3 Billion in Savings by 2022, Despite 30% Income Reduction

A new report from U.K. broadcaster BBC says that the corporation is on course to deliver £951 million ($1.3 billion) in savings despite a real-terms 30% reduction in income.

The “BBC Value for Audiences” report released Wednesday notes that the reduction is due to increased funding obligations, such as the World Service and Welsh free-to-air channel S4C, the freeze in cost of the license fee income from 2011-2017 and the removal of the subsidy for licenses for those over 75 years of age, together resulting in an income loss of £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion).

The report also records a slowing down of growth in total households needing a TV license, a small increase in license fee payment evasion, and a drop in the overall Television Penetration Rate, which has fallen from 95.7% to 93.8%. It recognizes market pressures in the shape of SVOD and pay TV services such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus and Sky, and also from the rapid rise of social media and gaming.

The report states that as a saver, the corporation has: halved the number of senior managers; reduced the costs of managing the BBC’s property estate by 22%; delivered 29 major projects since 2012/13, on average 9% below budget; saved 45% on major strategic contracts costs; and cut overheads from 7.6% to 4.8%.

As a seller, among many achievements, the BBC has grown commercial income by 50% to £1.6 billion ($2.18 billion) and increased the on-screen value for every £1 ($1.36) of license fee spent from £1.35 ($1.83) to £1.47 ($2) within the last 12 months due to increased third-party investment.

However, the report identifies that further savings will involve difficult choices that will impact programs and services.

The report also has numerous instances of the BBC’s smart spending, without losing quality or audiences. Looking forward, the report states several objectives including keep audience value as the primary focus of its strategy; efficiencies in content creation and distribution; further increase commercial revenues; explore opportunities presented by technological developments, including increased automation and digital offers; use lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic to inform future ways of working including travel efficiencies; and investing in new, diverse talent.

Tim Davie, BBC director-general, said: “The BBC has made big changes to ensure we provide outstanding value. We are smarter spenders and savers and more efficient than ever before, but there is more to do.”

“The financial challenges and competition we face continue to evolve and while we have demonstrated we can deliver, I want us to adapt and reform further to safeguard the outstanding programs and services that our audiences love for the future,” Davie added.

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