The Coronavirus Pandemic (and associated Lockdown) has hit the BBC hard and it has to find £125 million of savings this year. So, what does it do?
The BBC plans to focus on Regional Television, which provides a vital Regional and Local service to folk across the country to make savings of £25 million by March 2022. The BBC are planning for 450 job- losses and are seeking to find these from the BBC Regional Television and BBC Local Radio Budgets. This is completely the wrong area for the BBC to cut, and indeed, in Regions like the North West and North East of England there is a need for greater- not less- resources to provide good, effective local news coverage at the northernmost fringes of the BBC Regions for both the North West and North East of England.
BBC Regional and Local News on the television, online and on the radio are a lifeline for the elderly and those in remote rural communities, such as in Cumbria or North Lancashire. It is therefore unacceptable to make economies this way by cutting vital public services like Regional News. And that includes sacking popular news- presenters who have a good rapport with the viewers- and whatever faults there may be in how much BBC North West programming covers Cumbria or North Lancashire their presenters are articulate and popular. The main news- presenter Roger Johnson, the other popular news- presenter Annabel Tiffin and the charismatic Weather- presenter Owain Wyn Evans are like a family to scores of elderly folk who live on their own in the North West- and the BBC’s plan to make redundancies here should be resisted to the full. Indeed there is a campaign in the North West to try to stop the “North West Tonight Family” being broken up (more here: https://www.prolificnorth.co.uk/news/broadcasting-news/2020/07/bbc-north-west-tonight-viewers-launch-petition-keep-presenters ).
The BBC could make huge savings in one area given that it is supposed to be the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) not the International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC): The BBC currently spends at least £1.24 a month per British TV License-payer towards paying for the BBC World Service (https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2019-07-02/how-much-does-each-bbc-tv-and-radio-channel-cost-to-run/). Just why are people in this country paying for the BBC to provide news- services for people in other countries? When you multiply this by twelve to get the annual cost per license-payer, then multiply by the number of TV License- payers in Britain (27 million households) you come to the fact that the BBC pays over £401 billion per annum of British tax-payers money every year to pay for the provision of news watched by people in other countries: The BBC is not the IBC, it is there to serve people in this country- not to provide news in Spanish for folk living in the city of Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador (as an example).
If the BBC want to offer services for folk in far- flung countries let them become self- financing by offering folk there a service through paid subscription (or, if they want to offer the service for free to poor Ethiopians the BBC could try and raise money through advertising, product- placement in programmes or by charging a slightly higher subscription fee to paying users). And if they can’t raise money on the open market, the BBC should make economies there and cut pay-for services that are not financially viable.
However, the recent news-report that the BBC need to make savings of £125 million this year- and next (see here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-52474911) is a sizeable sum of money. But they can- and must- totally protect Regional Television from these cuts and cut the BBC’s equivalent of the Government’s bloated Foreign Aid budget: That is the £401 million of British TV License- payers’ money used each year to pay for the BBC World Service! Cutting the BBC World Service by a third, perhaps by axing the programme in countries hostile to Britain (like Iran and Russia) and not airing from 10.pm to 7.am local time (and making it subscription only in some countries, like the USA) would raise £133 million a year and leave £8 million to spare. That £8 million can be put into better (and more localised) Regional Television for the good people who pay for it- TV License- fee payers in North West England (and in Northumberland which suffers from Tyneside/ Teesside-dominated output)!
In addition trimming some of the excess pay of the BBC’s top stars (like Gary Lineker on £1,750,000 a year- see here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-44792074) could pay even more towards the cost of a new BBC North West Region for Cumbria, Lancashire and the Isle of Man. And the BBC could stop wasting ££ millions, like the £25 million for a complete new set for the soap East Enders!
The BBC must remember that it is not the International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and take note that, in tough times, Charity Begins at Home!