The BBC has been warned that younger viewers are being disproportionately impacted by cutbacks which have thus far spared ‘affluent’ audiences – according to the former controller of Radio 5 Live.
Roger Mosey cited cuts to BBC Sport, migration of BBC Three to a digital only service and the loss of broadcast rights for Formula One as decisions which affected the young more than older audiences.
Mosey told the Radio Times: “BBC Sport across all its platforms has shown itself willing to share rights with other broadcasters and to reduce the charge for the licence-fee payer - only for the bean-counters to come back with a raid on tens of millions pounds more of the sport budget.
"It seems to be part of a pattern. The loss of Formula One on TV and the slashing of BBC Three's budget are hitting the same younger audiences.
"The affluent heartland audiences are protected, and the arts world indulged, while sport is raided; and it will compound the problem if 5 Live is next in line for emasculation."
In reposne, a BBC spokesperson said: “Everyone knows the BBC faces a significant financial challenge. There has already been plenty of speculation about how we can save money and best meet the needs of our audience, and there will no doubt be plenty more, but we’re proud so many people share our passion for 5 live’s brilliant news and sports coverage.”
The BBC is engaged in an ongoing programme of cutbacks in its efforts to balance the books with the latest rumours suggesting that 5 Live itself could be follow BBC Three as an online only service.
However, the BBC has strenuously denied the suggestion that 5 Live could move online only, saying: “There is absolutely no truth to this story.”
Recognising the corporation’s parlous fiscal position culture secretary John Whittingdale has pledged to close a loophole enabling viewers to watch BBC content for free by using the iPlayer service rather than pay a license fee to watch broadcast content.