Monday, September 7, 2015

BBC announces painful budget cuts; kids channel CBeebies, BBC World News on DStv could disappear, become online streaming options.

The BBC today announced that shocking and painful cuts and budget cuts are looming for the venerable British public broadcaster - the impact of which shouldn't be under-estimated.

It will be the biggest overhaul for the BBC in more than a decade.

The BBC's director-general Tony Hall today announced at the Science Museum that it's "inevitable" that BBC services will have to be closed or cut soon.

The BBC downsizing raises interesting and extremely important questions about South Africa's struggling public broadcaster, the SABC.

If the BBC says that as a smaller media player in a global world it has to adapt fast and soon to ensure its survival to create a new way of operating and existing in the future, it's important to ask how the SABC will manage to operate on a sustainable basis in the future.

The SABC faces the same global challenges as the BBC, is much smaller than the BBC.

But beyond that the SABC is mired in much more political malaise and executive mismanagement. The SABC is entangled in a debilitating and gutted SABC board marked by squabbled and in-fighting the past three years, as well as damaging top management incompetence, and allegations of undue political interference.

The BBC said earlier this year its clear that the mandated BBC TV licence fee (something South Africa also has and which isn't working) will disappear and be gone within a few years.

Amidst budget cuts and a very challenging media landscape, Tony Hall said very hard decisions will have to be made in order to position the BBC for the internet age.

When Tony Hall spoke today, it sounded as if he was speaking of and about the SABC - which faces the exact same bleak future, although SABC executives appear to be clueless about where the SABC is heading and doing little to confront and prepare for that future.

"Our share of TV revenues in the United Kingdom will fall - most likely from about 20% now, to some 12% by the end of the charter," said Tony Hall.

"Our size relative to the other giants of the media world is small. And over the next decade will diminish, both relatively and absolutely. In summary, the BBC faces a very tough financial challenge. So we will have to manage our resources every more carefully, and prioritise what we believe the BBC should offer," said Tony Hall.

"We will inevitably have to close or reduce some services," said Tony Hall.

The BBC tweeted the graphic at the top to show how the BBC compares to the significant other media giants.

The BBC's new 90-page proposal document about changes, downsizing and cuts will have a global impact, irrespective of what is eventually decided on.

One change is that the kids channel CBeebies (DStv 309) might cease to be a linear TV channel and become an online player.

BBC World News (DStv 400 / StarSat 256) could possibly also end."Streaming news may replace rolling news," says the report. It's in line with the news and plan that leaked and was reported in several stories earlier this year.

BBC3 will end as a linear TV channel and continue as a truncated, online-only channel later this year. Fears are now also growing that BBC4 might be cut the same way.

The BBC has to slim down 20% - the stark opposite of South Africa's SABC which keeps growing and expanding and failed to implement and reduce its "bloated" workforce which was a requirement and a promise of the government bail-out and loan to the SABC of R1.4 billion to help save it from bankruptcy in 2011.

Tony Hall says the BBC is creating a more bespoke BBC, and a more "open BBC for the internet age"Repeats on TV will increase while around 3 000 people will lose their jobs.

Tony Hall says the BBC will have to "display excellence without arrogance" and will have to collaborate with commercial rivals and expand internationally. Part of the plan is also for the BBC to start offering viewers binge-viewing options beginning with drama.