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What is in store for the next round of BBC regional TV cuts?

Taking out 25% - 250 million pounds - from the BBC television budget next year is going to be a challenge. Today I look at how the BBC regional news services in England might be "reshaped" to the smaller budget.

BBC South Today ... could be BBC South Coast Today?   Photograph:
BBC South Today ... could be BBC South Coast Today? Photograph:
published on UK Free TV

Here is the cuts graph again, for the period ending 2016/17

BBC cutsI 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.

Option 1: 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:

BBC England split into eight

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

The maths


Option 2: Reduce the output

Another option would be to keep all the 14 England regions, but reduce the number of broadcast minutes a year.

BBC Regions

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. 


Over to you

Would you accept shorter programmes and bigger regions, or the same programmes covering larger regions?


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Saturday, 2 May 2015

10:08 PM

Graham F Lewendon: I find the national far more useful than the local. Our 'local' news really isn't local at all - its an entirely different region. If I want to find out what my weather might be, the best I can do is look in the bottom right hand corner of the screen when the weather map is up, and guess.

And since we need both national and local weather forcasting, I'm not sure it saves much money.

As for the idea that there should be some sort of gentlemans agreement over news coverage, that seems unlikely to work. Although broadcasters have organised 'pooling' in the past for certain events, I cant imagine any media organisation not covering any event simply because someone else was doing it, and I'm not sure I'd want just one organisation's coverage anyway.

As for wall to wall coverage - if you've got 24 hour a day news channels, you've got to fill them with something! Even if its speculation about speculation. If you want a different news agenda, try the World Service or BBC World News - its often refeshingly different.

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MikeB's 2,575 posts GB
Monday, 31 August 2015
11:45 AM

If there are less Regions it should be by Government Region
(though ITV would have to build a East Midlands Studio again).

The better option is shorter Regional News bulletins on both the BBC/ITV...
Maybe drop the Breakfast and Lunchtime bulletins, just concentrate on the Evening
programmes (20 minutes at Evening, 10 minutes at Night). Leave the rest to BBC/Commercial
Stations and Local Newspapers/Websites.

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Rijowhi's 1 post GB
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