Director-General Tony Hall has laid out his plans to reshape the BBC to meet the demands of its audience, while satisfying the demands of the BBC Charter Renewal.
He said the proposals were intended to create an “open, more distinctive BBC” – but what do the changes actually involve?
From local news reporting to a ‘binge watching’ future for BBC iPlayer, here is everything you need to know about the proposed BBC changes.
More British drama
British drama will be a key part of the BBC’s mission, from BBC1 to online. Bigger and bolder dramas will help it compete with the biggest American broadcasters, as well as on demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. it will also, they claim, help boost the creative industries in the UK.
More dramas like Doctor Who, Sherlock, Poldark and more come at a cost however. Reports this weekend suggested that bolder dramas could come at the expense of services like BBC4, with BBC sources suggesting that the channel’s closure could free up £50 million a year for drama productions.
The BBC said today that further savings measures would be announced in January but said that to fund any proposed changes they would have to “deliver further efficiencies and scale back its operations elsewhere.”
The BBC says it will begin to allow “content from others” on its established on demand service. Rival shows and broadcasters will be able to broadcast their content via BBC iPlayer.
Some drama series are also expected to be made available in their entirety on iPlayer, in order to compete with the ‘binge-watching’ potential of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
A new Ideas Service
This will, the BBC claim, provide “the best of British ideas and culture.” In practice this means better collaboration with UK museums, galleries, universities and theatres in order to bring their expertise and artefacts to new audiences.
“Our new, open BBC will act as a curator bringing the best from Britain’s great cultural institutions and thinkers to everyone,” explained the Director-General. “Britain has some of the greatest cultural forces in the world. We want to join with them, working alongside them, to make Britain the greatest cultural force in the world.
A new children’s service
‘iPlay’ will, the BBC say, create “a single front-door for children” to access age-appropriate content from the BBC and other “trusted partners”. The new children’s version of iPlayer will allow parents and children to select shows and other material for any stage of their development.
CBBC and CBeebies already have dedicated channels, but this new online service could eventually supersede the traditional TV channel. A spokesperson this weekend said however that there were no current plans to close the BBC’s two digital children’s channels.
Digital music discovery
The BBC has already enhanced its digital music operation with BBC Playlister, offering interactive track listings for its favourite radio shows and drama soundtracks. Users can use these lists on services like Spotify and YouTube.
Today the BBC says it aims to go further, and find “digital ways to support music discovery to help audiences find new music and the best from the archive. This is back by the UK music industry and focused on promoting the best of new British talent.”
Pushing on the developments made by iPlayer Radio, the BBC wants to allow users to create their own personalised schedule from available shows and podcasts.
World Service investment
The expansion of the BBC World Service includes investing in news coverage “where there is a democratic deficit in impartial news.” North Korea, Russia and an expanded BBC Arabic service are all on the table. Unlike other suggestions listed here, funding for the World Service will have to be discussed and agreed with the Government before changes can be implemented.
Local reporting partnerships
BBC journalists will work with local newspapers in a collaboration that will, according to the BBC, help “to secure the future of local newspapers and democratic reporting.” 100 new local reporters are expected to work in this new operation.
BBC website review
The BBC says its online presence will have a “stronger focus on online broadcast content”. Newspapers in particular have challenged the BBC’s expansion online into written and broadcast news. As part of these digital developments, the BBC plans to move from “rolling news to streaming news” through the launch of BBC Newstream.
Education, news and entertainment services in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be re-examined as part of the BBC’s “consultation about how to reflect deepening devolution.”
As well as expanding in key areas such as drama, the BBC accepts it will “require service reductions or closures” in its aim to make a further 20 per cent cut to its running costs.
The BBC has not specified where the axe will fall, but as stated above BBC4 is predicted to be one of the services under threat. The BBC’s announcement. “The BBC believes that it must adapt and change,” the BBC explained. “Part of that is about choosing where to focus its resources and creative effort.”