BBC2 takes a budget reduction for the coming year to pay for sport on BBC1

The channel that brought us Line of Duty, Wolf Hall, The Fall and Peaky Blinders has its content spend cut for the next 12 months while BBC1’s budget is increased. But the BBC say there is a very easy explanation…

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BBC2 may have recently brought us a range of hit shows including Line of Duty, The Hollow Crown and Peaky Blinders, but it is having the amount it spends on content cut for the next year while BBC1’s budget is increased.

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According to the so-called service licences put forward by the BBC executive and approved by the BBC Trust, BBC2’s budget for the 2016/17 financial year is £406.1m – down from £425.5m for 2015/16. That represents a fall of nearly £20m.

But in case you thought this reflected the latest BBC cost-cutting drives, the Corporation’s main channel BBC1 is getting a budget boost.

This financial year its budget for content spend is £1,174.4m, a increase of more than £63m on last year’s content spend of £1,111.2m.      

The BBC said that the budgetary changes were largely due to the increased spend on sport content this summer, which includes The Euros 2016 football championship and the Rio Olympics.

A spokesman said that it would be incorrect to suggest that BBC2 was taking a “hit” and said that there was a “very easy explanation” for the changes.

He added: “The change is mainly driven by major sports events. 2015/16 for BBC2 would have included events such as F1, World Athletics and the Open, all of which are not covered in 16/17. So costs associated with those events would no longer come through the BBC2 service licence.

“While 16/17 is a big sports year, the Euros will be exclusively on BBC1 and the Rio Olympics are mainly scheduled between BBC1 and BBC4 with a very small element scheduled for BBC2.

“If the sports costs have varied, they have varied because of what is being shown. It’s a simple reality, and it would be false logic to describe this as in any way a cut.”

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A BBC Trust spokeswoman added: “Service licence budgets often vary from year to year depending on a range of factors, like anticipated sporting events which are expensive to cover, or doing more online. The Trust carefully examines the BBC’s budget proposals every year.”