Prepare for more rehearsals and less drama, says BBC chief

The BBC’s chief executive has warned the BBC has “some choices to make” after raising the specter of more show repeats and less original programming.

Tim Davie has suggested the company will be forced to cut back on what it does after the government announced licensing fees will remain at £159 for two years amid the cost of living crisis.

Speaking at the Deloitte and Enders Media and Telecoms conference, Mr Davie said: “We have choices to make. I think we will always be able to deliver great service.”

He added that “the stakes are very high as to what kind of society we live in” when discussing the BBC’s future funding model.

He said, “Listen to the public. What are we? Storytellers, a democracy.”

It suggests the chief executive is bracing for cuts to programming and follows up on a similar warning last month.

In April, he told the Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference: “We do 31 dramas a year, we’ll probably have to do less.

“What I don’t want to do is compromise on quality. You can end up with services like BBC Four, which are great archive services.”

“Are they repetitions? Yes. do they have value? Yes. We will still have thousands of hours of origination, but I prefer to do less and protect the quality.

The BBC has been forced to cut spending by £1billion a year between 2017 and 2022 due to license fee settlements imposed in 2015 by Chancellor George Osborne. It recently scrapped concessions for the over-75s due to budget concerns.

Despite this pressure, he announced this week that staff would get their biggest pay rise in a decade, with a 4.24% increase for most employees in August, to be topped up later by another 1% increase. .

Mr Davie said the company “can go further” in the cuts. The BBC has so far focused on cutting costs for administrative staff rather than programming and newsroom employees.

He said: “We will always look for the costs and we will continue to hunt.”

In January, the government announced that BBC license fees would be frozen as ministers “move to support families in the face of the rising cost of living”.

Ms Dorries recently suggested the government could scrap the BBC license fee altogether and replace it with a new funding model. It is thought the fee will rise slightly after 2024 for three years before being phased out altogether.