Here is the cuts graph again, for the period ending 2016/17
I have looked at this topic before in the Why the BBC should abandon 700+m "regional news" to fund local radio, BBC three… article.
BBC Regional News in England is very expensive - perhaps half of the BBC One budget, if 25% cuts are to be made then the regional news seems an option.
There are basically two options here: reduce the output, or reduce the regions.
There are 14 regions in England (on top of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). One option would be to reduce that down to 8, each with 12.5% of the homes in. Here is a how that might work out:
This would mean "joining" some regions ("Leeds" and "East Midlands"), keeping some the same ("North West", "London") and splitting some ("West Midlands"). The above scheme notes that London+Heartland+SouthCoast is 3 eighths in total.
Such a scheme would be more equitable in terms of budget breakdown, but someone, somewhere is going to feel "distant" from their news centre.
These changes would make sense from a money-saving perspective. Larger regions would mean fewer studios and savings on broadcast costs, especially satellite where each BBC One region is broadcast separately.
Here's how the figures work out
Another option would be to keep all the 14 England regions, but reduce the number of broadcast minutes a year.
Currently the regions insert their own content for a few minutes per hour during Breakfast weekdays, for a quarter hour at 13:30, half an hour at 18:30, an update at 19:57, seven minutes at 22:25. At the weekend there is segments of Sunday Politics and news updates, with regional documentaries Inside Out.
To save 25% of the budget, the weekday evening programmes could be taken back to 22.5 minute, with shorter late updates and less minutes during Breakfast. The Inside Out programme could be broadcast for only 75% of the current hours.
Compared to Option 1, this option will not reduce the number of BBC studios or satellite broadcasts, but may be more acceptable to the viewer. Extending the national news by four minutes and starting the One Show three minutes sooner could cover the loss somewhat.
Would you accept shorter programmes and bigger regions, or the same programmes covering larger regions?
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