Friday, July 15, 2016


On Tuesday, in the Q&As after the Annual Report launch, BBC Director General Lord Hall 'saves' the News Channel from closure or further merger with BBC World News.

On Wednesday, the BBC Executive considers Director of News' six options for making savings in 24-hour tv news operations, and, presumably, 'saves' the News Channel again from closure or further merger with BBC World News. 

On Wednesday evening, hacks are briefed that James Harding will update staff on The Future of News on Monday "after taking our recommendations to Executive Board today". 

On Thursday morning, News Channel staff are briefed they are safe from closure/merger. Managers are said to have listened to staff efficiency ideas.

On Thursday morning, a spokesman fleshes it out for the press. “We did detailed work on the proposal for a new single channel, including a financial model, and listened to what both audiences and BBC staff told us.  Although there are strong arguments in favour of running a single news channel, we concluded that this would not be the best way of offering a UK audience and global audiences the news agenda that is most directly relevant to them.”

“During the work on all the options, including the proposal for a single channel, we recognised opportunities for working more efficiently, and we face tough financial challenges, so we will aim to make efficiency savings of up to 10% on both channels.”

10% of what, and by when ? The production costs of the News Channel are £24.7m, Newsgathering charges the Channel £21.3m; add some 'other costs' and the Channel's content costs total £46.4m. Add distribution and support, and it rises to £62.3m.

Why cut funding to BBC World News at all ? With, it makes money from ads, and last year moved into profit for the first time, albeit a measly £200,000k. Nonetheless, that's quite a reversal from a £4.6m loss the previous year. And, we are told, it's all growth, with BBC World News now available in 441m homes globally, up 11% on the year.

One would hope that big World Service Group boss Fran Unsworth has hypothecated both the £200k and future profits from the grabbing hands of News Director James Harding. And made it clear that using all-new FCO funding for targeted improvements to language services to offset Mr Harding's domestic savings targets would be unethical. Maybe someone should brief BoJo.

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