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BBC predicts deficit will increase to £492m amid ‘significant strain’

The BBC is projecting that its total deficit will increase to £492 million for the 2024/25 financial year.

In the corporation’s annual plan, it outlined that an “exceptional increased spend” will push up the operating deficit to £468 million as the BBC covers major supporting events such as the Olympics in Paris and Euro 2024, held in German cities.

According to the National Audit Office, the BBC had an operating deficit of £220 million in 2022/23.

“It is clear that substantial public funding is vital to the BBC’s future to allow us to deliver our public service mission,” the BBC’s annual report says.

“In real terms, the licence fee generated 30% more income in 2010/11 than it does today – a difference of more than £1 billion a year. Various costs have been added, followed by two years of a frozen licence fee at a time of high inflation.

“This has also coincided with a reduction across the media sector in the availability of ‘coproduction’ funding to help spread the investment into some of our larger titles and programmes.

“Other wider sector challenges have also increased financial pressure on the BBC’s commercial activities. So the BBC’s finances are under significant strain.”

The corporation had a £124 million net surplus in 2021/22, the NAO said. In January 2022, the licence was frozen to £159 for two years, and will increase this year to £169.50 a year.

BBC director-general Tim Davie announced on Tuesday that an additional £200 million will have to be saved following the corporation already announcing annual savings of £500 million.

The corporation has already cut £400 million from its budget.

Mr Davie also said that the corporation will launch research into how the broadcaster could re-approach the licence fee post-2028, which would include “how it could be more progressive”.

The BBC is also set to cover the general election, which is expected this year, look at introducing more artificial intelligence (AI) into its reporting, and celebrate flagship shows’ anniversaries.

EastEnders has its 40th anniversary in early 2025, while Strictly Come Dancing will celebrate its 20th birthday later this year.

Mr Davie said: “This is going to be a significant year for the BBC. Our content offer is packed with major sporting and music events, exciting new dramas and unrivalled coverage of elections across the world.

“It will also be a year of embracing reform and innovation as we deliver value for all, focused on pursuing truth with no agenda, backing the best of British storytelling, and bringing people together.”

The annual plan also confirmed the return of dramas Silent Witness, Call The Midwife, Death In Paradise, Shetland and Beyond Paradise, the documentary Field Of Dreams – presented by Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff – as well as competition shows such as Gladiators, Claudia Winkleman-fronted The Traitors and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.

Former England cricket captain Flintoff was hurt while filming Top Gear at its test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome last December and received a financial settlement from the BBC.

Top Gear was rested for the “foreseeable future” by the corporation last year.

Flintoff will take cricketing talent from his home county of Lancashire on tour for the second Field Of Dreams series.

Comedies such as Am I Being Unreasonable?, starring Daisy May Cooper and Bafta winner Lenny Rush, is back for a second series.

Stephen Merchant’s The Outlaws, Romesh Ranganathan’s Avoidance, and Black Ops will also be back.

Martin Freeman will be back in the crime drama The Responder, and soaps Waterloo Road and Casualty will also return.


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