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Government report claims that BBC does not know whether cost cutting programme is affecting quality


By Stephen Lepitak | -

March 6, 2012 | 2 min read

MPs have questioned whether the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) knows for sure whether its savings strategy has affected the quality of its broadcasting.

In a report, the Commons Public Accounts Committee questions the affect of the efficiency programme implemented by the BBC through evidence provided by the BBC and the BBC Trust.

The management of the cost cutting programme is praised, with it expected to deliver annual savings of £560m by 2012/2013, however whether it was affecting the quality of its output, this was still unclear.

Richard Bacon MP, Member of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: "When negotiating the television licence fee settlement in 2007, the BBC claimed that it could make no efficiency savings beyond 2008. But it now forecasts that, by 2012-13, it will have delivered annual efficiency savings of £560 million and plans to make further annual savings of £400 million by 2016-17.

“It took the pressure of a licence fee settlement to force the BBC into setting a target of 3 per cent annual savings, which it is comfortably on track to achieve. The BBC’s assumptions about what it could deliver were unambitious.

“Those who watch and listen to the BBC's services will want to know that the savings the BBC has made have not affected the quality of its output. The BBC cannot give them that assurance. As it moves from making efficiency savings to cutting services, the BBC needs to be open about how these cuts will impact on services and what it will do if quality suffers too much.

“The BBC must maximise its commercial income. But the BBC’s plans for this are unambitious when placed in the context of the financial pressures on the broadcaster. We expect a clear explanation of why a £40 million a year increase in commercial income is the limit of what can be achieved,” he concluded.

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