The BBC is to cut significant costs across its entire radio output by dropping the level of commissioned hours, removing management layers, encouraging closer cross-station collaboration and reducing the Asian Network’s £12m budget by 34%.
Output such as comedy on Radio 2 and Radio 5 Live will be slashed, along with fewer lunchtime concerts and dramas on Radio 3.
Radio 4’s budget will be largely safe-guarded but its factual programming base will move from Birmingham to Bristol and Cardiff. The moves were announced today as part of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First money-saving drive.
The lion’s share of cuts in content spend will come from off-peak times when listening figures are at their lowest, while the BBC expects to continue to fund landmark series such as Radio 4’s History Of The World in 100 Objects as part of its “fewer, bigger, better” strategy.
All stations will be directed to share local radio content regionally in the afternoons and evenings, while Radio 1 will share news bulletins, outside of breakfast, with digital-only sister-station 1Xtra with similar moves planned for Radio 2 and 6Music and Radio 4 andRadio 3.
The hardest hit station Asian Network has again been saved from the axe but will see its cost-per-listener-per-hour reduced, mainly by calling a halt to all drama and doc content and offering fewer, longer programmes. The station will be re-built around six content areas; news, music / entertainment, Asian culture, discussion, languages and specialist music.
Staff levels will also be hit as part of director-general Thompson’s drive to reduce layers between his role and the organisation’s most junior staff to five. As such, radio production will see an entire management layer reduced in some cases.