Following the government’s two-year freeze on the licence fee, the BBC may discontinue key programming, including Sir David Attenborough’s wildlife series, in order to save money.
Concerns have been voiced that popular big-budget programmes might be axed as part of the broadcaster’s £500 million cost-cutting strategy.
Cost-cutting measures have already impacted shows, such as Newsnight, which has been drastically reduced, and more may follow.
BBC officials say additional programming cuts are likely if the licence fee does not rise in pace with inflation when the current contract expires next April.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has previously advised the company to be’realistic’ about the current increases, implying that the increase may not be the predicted £15 per year.
As a result, according to a media expert, Sir David’s series, such as Planet Earth, Wild Isles, and Frozen Planet, might be scrapped since they are expensive to produce.
Alice Enders told The i: ‘If the licence fee continues to wither, you are looking at the BBC’s big-ticket items to make savings so nothing can be immune.’
‘There could be less high-end drama, it’s a big expense and streamers are forcing prices up. The costume budget alone for The Crown is huge.”
‘David Attenborough’s natural history series sell well globally but they are expensive too. There would need to be more co-productions with international broadcasters.’
To save the BBC millions of pounds, the new-look nightly Newsnight will be reduced to a 30-minute broadcast.
The BBC Two show will continue to run on weeknights as a ‘interview, debate, and discussion show,’ but more than half of the show’s 60 positions will be lost.
Further changes include the relocation of an hour-long edition of BBC News At One to Salford, as well as the extension of BBC Breakfast by 15 minutes everyday.
More focus will be put on ‘digital storytelling’ and live coverage across the BBC News division, which will coincide with a ‘reduction in the amount of television packaging’.
The company anticipates that the modifications will save £7.5 million.
Sir Elton John is among many who have expressed alarm over the BBC’s plans, calling the move to eliminate BBC Introducing a ‘worrying step.’
Plans to integrate local BBC Introducing broadcasts were disclosed in January, sparking a campaign backed by Nile Rodgers to maintain the current structure in place.
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Taking to Instagram, 76-year-old Sir Elton shared his thoughts on the devastating move and wrote: ‘BBC Introducing’s network and support of new music has been one of the best ways for emerging artists to get airplay and find listeners from local to national radio.
‘After reading recent reports of cuts to certain services, I look forward to seeing the BBC make good on their promise to continue to support up-and-coming acts and not compromise the essence of BBC Introducing.’
He continued: ‘To stop investing in the future of the UK’s influential music industry whilst cuts are being made to the creative sector across the board would be a worrying step and neglect of musicians who bring culture and capital to the UK at home and abroad.’
A BBC spokesperson previously said: ‘The Government and BBC agreed a six-year licence fee settlement in January 2022, which froze the licence fee for two years with increases in line with inflation from 2024.
‘As is usual practice the Government sets and confirms the cost of a licence each year and this remains unconfirmed for 2024/25.
‘The BBC will continue to focus on what it does best: working to deliver world-class content and providing great value for all audiences.’