BBC to close Asian Network and6 Music
The BBC today signalled an end to years of expansion as it unveiled plans to axe two radio stations, halve its website and slash spending on sports and U.S. TV shows.
Director General Mark Thompson confirmed digital radio station 6 Music and Asian Network are to be axed, with teen TV services Switch and Blast also facing the chop.
BBC online is to have its budget reduced by 25 per cent by 2013, backed by similar cuts to staff levels, as it slashes back the number of its web pages.
Mr Thompson admitted the corporation has become too large and must shrink to allow room for its commercial rivals.
And indicating a reduction in the huge salaries for BBC bosses, he pledged that in future, 90p of every pound spent on the licence fee will be spent on programming.
The drastic cutbacks are being billed as the biggest shake-up in the organisation's 88-year history and will be welcome news for ITV and Channel 4.
Mr Thompson insists the broadcaster must concentrate on being a 'creator of quality' and know its limits.
'It must be far more explicit than in the past about what it will not do… The BBC should not attempt to do everything,' he said this morning.
'It must listen to legitimate concerns from commercial media players more carefully than it has in the past and act sooner to meet them. It needs the confidence and clarity to stop as well as to start doing things.'
He added: 'The proposed changes we are announcing today are not a piece of politics. It is also not a blueprint of a small BBC or a BBC that is in retreat from digital.'
But the proposals are being seen as an attempt to prove to the next government that the BBC is prepared to get its own house in order.
Furious union leaders insist they are politically motivated and say the closure of 6 Music alone will cost up to 600 jobs.
They have already warned about industrial action and are due to meet Mr Thompson tomorrow.
The cutbacks include:
- Scrapped digital radio stations 6 Music and the Asian Network;
- Axing teenage channels BBC Switch and Blast!;
- Increasing BBC Two's budget by £25million;
- Diverting £600million into higher-quality content;
- A 25 per cent reduction in the £100million budget for foreign TV acquisitions;
- Halving online output and reducing its staff and budget by 25 per cent;
- Speeding up plans to slash the senior management pay bill by 25 per cent.