The BBC is to shut down linear channels BBC4 and CBBC and make them digital only services as part of a plan to focus on streaming services.

The announcement was made in a speech to staff this afternoon by Director-General Tim Davie who said the BBC must “reform to stay relevant and continue to provide great value for all.”

The changes come in the wake of culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ decision to freeze the licence fee for the next two years.

Davie said “What we are laying out today is a £500m plan for the next few years. This is made up of two things: £200m a year of cuts which are necessitated by the two-year licence fee freeze. This represents the majority of our £285m a year challenge by 2027/28. £50m of this £200m is already baked into our current budgets. The rest is delivered by stopping things and running the organisation better where we can. Then there’s a further £300m a year which is about moving money around the organisation and delivering additional commercial income. This means that we are not just cutting money everywhere but making choices where to invest.

Davie said the BBC will reinvest £300m to drive a “digital-first approach, through changes to content and output and additional commercial income.”

As part of this, money will be moved into new programmes for iPlayer “which will also attract extra third-party investment on screen.”

Davie said: “This is our moment to build a digital-first BBC. Something genuinely new, a Reithian organisation for the digital age, a positive force for the UK and the world. Independent, impartial, constantly innovating and serving all … we need to evolve faster and embrace the huge shifts in the market around us.”

The plan also involves shifting resources in local output towards digital, making savings in broadcast news, reinvesting that in video and digital news and investing up to £50m a year in product development.

Overall, there will be up to 1,000 fewer people employed in the public-funded part of the BBC over the next few years.

 

Jon Creamer

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