The BBC is reviewing its channel and programming lineup across all media, and looks set to cut some TV, Radio and Web services to focus its budget on making “fewer things better”. The highest profile services in line for the axe are digital/online only stations 6 Music and the Asian Network, with teen-aimed services Blast and Switch also in the firing line. The Corporation is also looking at cutting chunks out of its main web services, dropping sections with poor online audiences wholesale to reduce costs. The narrowing of services is aimed at freeing up more of Auntie’s budget to be focussed into the content on the remaining services; making less, but better content.
Strong feeling is evident among the Asian Network and 6 Music’s listeners, who are relatively few in number, but passionate about saving their stations and have already started campaigns against the cuts. Their views are not shared by everyone; Peter Bazalgette, creator of Channel 4’s “Big Brother”, applauded the cuts, and called for the BBC to retreat from more programming areas to make room for independent production companies, who have been hard hit by the recent recession. Mark Thompson conceded that some of the audiences, particularly the Teen sector that Blast was aimed at, were being better served by Channel 4 and other independent and commercial providers.
The BBC has struggled with its public service remit over recent years, trying hard to find a balance between its need to create unique, informative and educational programming as per its charter, and calls to justify the license fee with which it funds itself by making more entertainment programmes with a wider appeal. In this blogger’s opinion, a refocussing on excellent rather than broad programming is a very positive step, and a return to the values that make the Beeb so precious a national treasure.