Unveiled today (May 26) in a speech by BBC director-general Tim Davie (pictured), a new digital-first strategy for the UK pubcaster will result in the closure of smaller linear channels such as CBBC, BBC Four and Radio 4 Extra over the next few years.
The plan will also see approximately 1,000 jobs eliminated within the public-funded divisions of the BBC in the same timeframe.
Linear net CBBC launched in 2002 to serve kids ages six to 17. Its closure isn’t expected to happen before 2025 because the channel is still delivering value at low cost, according to Davie. In the last year, the Beeb has greenlit a new live-action Tracy Beaker series to launch on CBBC and iPlayer, as well as 30-minute doc My Life: Battle of the Ballroom. And on the acquisitions front, CBBC has recently picked up Girls of Olympus from The Animation Band and RAI, as well as Studio Ghibli’s Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter.
Phase one of the Beeb’s strategy is designed to yield US$628 million (£500 million) in annual savings that will be reinvested into making the BBC digital-led. As part of the plan, US$251 million (£200 million) is earmarked for the US$358-million (£285 million) annual funding gap that was created earlier this year when the BBC’s license fee was frozen at US$199 (£159) for the next two years. The remainder will be covered by 2028 in the final three years of the current BBC royal charter period.
The broadcaster is also planning to reinvest US$377 million (£300 million) to “drive a digital-first approach, through changes to content and output and additional commercial income.” This will mean significant funding for new programs for the BBC’s iPlayer; shifting resources in local output to digital; investing savings from broadcast news into video and digital news; and investing up to US$62 million (£50 million) a year in product development.
Davie said the goal is to reach 75% of BBC viewers through the iPlayer service.
“This is our moment to build a digital-first BBC,” said Davie in his speech to staff. “Independent, impartial, constantly innovating and serving all.”
With files from Realscreen