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BBC Red Interactive

Cuts cast BBC Red Button's future in doubt


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

November 18, 2015 | 3 min read

The BBC is exploring axing its Red Button service in a bid to implement £150m of cuts.

The Red Button, the corporation’s answer to the outdated Ceefax, granted users multiscreen viewing during select sports events and festivals, also providing access to sports results, travel information, weather forecasts and more.

Many of these features are now widely provided on mobile devices, making the department vulnerable to the cuts – unlike Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC drama wing which escape the savings.

An additional £35m in sports rights are to be dropped by the BBC following it failing to capture the rights to The Open Golf competition. Additionally, the scaleback saw the BBC earlier this month issue a "final" but failed bid to reacquire the rights to X-Factor rival, the Voice.

Director-general Tony Hall said: “The BBC has and is doing everything possible to make sure the impact on the public is minimised. Wherever possible we’re targeting savings by creating a simpler, leaner BBC.

“But cuts to budgets for programmes and services are unavoidable. No director-general wants to announce reduced spending on services that the public love. This is very tough, but the BBC’s financial position means there is no alternative.”

The BBC blames the budget deficency, which resulted in 1,000 job cuts, on the BBC iPlayer loophole which does not require people watching catch-up TV to pay a license fee.

A BBC spokesperson told The Drum that it is "exploring a phased exit from the broadcast Red Button service" to focus on its interactive TV offering and the iPlayer.

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