The BBC will cut 1,000 hours in content commissions across its portfolio

The plan is intended to address financial pressures faced by the pubcaster, including the freeze of the UK's regional TV license fee.
March 30, 2023

Amid stiffer economic headwinds, the BBC is significantly trimming the number of hours it commissions this year in order to meet new savings targets.

In the annual plan for 2023/2024 that it released today, the pubcaster has outlined plans to cut around 1,000 hours in content commissions across its portfolio this calendar year. 

Approximately 8,900 hours of kids programming will be available on CBBC, CBeebies and BBC iPlayer this year. There are around 4,500 hours planned for CBBC and BBC iPlayer (including 250 hours of first-run content), which is 100 fewer hours than in previous years.

This move comes in response to the budget crunch the BBC is facing as inflation drives up costs and its primary revenue source, the UK’s TV license fee, remains frozen until 2024. The pubcaster has revised its overall cost-savings target, which now stands at US$495 million, up from an original figure of US$352 million. 

The plan states: “There will be more of these difficult choices to come this year, but we will make them with audience value at the forefront of our thinking, balancing the needs of those increasingly consuming content online with those who continue to consume primarily through broadcast services.” 

However, the BBC appears to be reiterating its interest in supporting British animation, with series like Super Magic Happy Forest in the works. And it also referenced upcoming kids programs—such as Steve and Aneeshwar Go Wild and Junior Eurovision—as part of an effort to build on high-performing genres such as environmental and co-viewing content.

And in line with its digital-first strategy that was announced last year, the BBC will focus on developing online services with an additional US$61 million per year by 2025/2026. 

The plan was unveiled on the heels of the UK government publishing its new draft media bill yesterday, seeking to provide measures that benefit the region’s broadcasters, such as increased discoverability and regulations for streaming-based competitors.

BBC addressed the cuts in a statement to Kidscreen, stating that the 1,000 hours is across all TV content (except for news) including sports and BBC Four. The pubcaster spends more on UK-originated TV content than any other organization, and it will focus on commissioning high quality content that has the greatest reach, to meet the goal of: “transforming the organisation whilst delivering savings in a tough financial climate.”

Updated with BBC Statement.

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