Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ear ear

The future financing of BBC Monitoring is as clear as mud, in documents provided to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee this month.

Up until the Thommo/Hunt licence fee deal, when the BBC agreed to pick up the costs from 2014/15, Monitoring's income was pretty steady - between £25m and £29m a year, mainly from Foreign Office Grant-In-Aid, with less than £2m a year coming from commercial sources. (In 2003, it was doing so well it actually had cash reserves.)

The BBC charts prior to 2014/15 show no charge for property, technology, HR and other support. In in future forecasts, those central services will cost Monitoring an extraordinary £9m pa. (It includes a £1m pa contribution to BBC News bureaux, which ought to be cost neutral). And so, after some capital investment, the BBC plan is to run Monitoring from 2017/18 for around £9m direct spend, down from £25m in 2013/14, and saddle it with charges of £9m a year.  A 50/50 split. Yet elsewhere the BBC boasts that  94% of the BBC’s controllable spend is focused on content and delivery, with just 6% spent on running the organisation.

Perhaps the MPs might like to review where the proceeds of the BBC sale of Caversham Park should go. It was, after all, bought with money provided to the BBC by the Government in the Second World War.

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