How much does each BBC TV and radio channel cost to run?

From BBC 1 to Radio 6 Music, here's what your money goes towards

The BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House (Getty, HF)

The Licence Fee, and how the BBC uses the money it receives from its audience every year, can be a contentious issue. Yet how many of us actually know what our favourite programming costs to produce?

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Today saw the release of the Corporation’s annual report, which lays out in detail how its budget is divided between channels and radio stations.

As expected, the main channels receive the lion’s share, with the content budget for BBC 1 (£1,106 million) and BBC 2 (£381 million) consuming the bulk of the £1,678 million spent on its television output. While an eyebrow-raising sum – especially on the day it was revealed that the proportion of stars receiving more than £150,000 per year has increased – the BBC calculates that it only costs 7p for each hour BBC 1 is used.

Further down the line, children’s programming carries a comparatively high cost (£62 million for CBBC, £30 million on CBeebies) while the BBC News Channel clocks in at £44 million.

The Corporation’s various radio services are a relative bargain, with £304 million spent in total. Radio 4, with its mix of news and entertainment, costs the most at £96 million. Zoe Ball, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz broke into the previously exclusively-male list of top earning presenters this year, reflecting the importance of star-power to the corporation. Ball (who earned £370,000) took over from Chris Evans (£1.25 m) on the Radio 2 Breakfast show (station budget: £50 million).

With the BBC putting more of its content out exclusively on the internet, BBC Online’s budget ballooned from £182 million in 2017/18 to £214 million. Nevertheless, the reach of online channel BBC Three remained consistent, with the corporation estimating 8% of its target age-group (16-34 year olds) tuned in. By comparison, BBC1 is calculated to reach 66.7% of the entire UK population.

On an individual basis, your monthly licence fee (£12.54 per household) is spent as follows:

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  • Television: £6.92
  • Radio: £2.17
  • BBC World Service: £1.24
  • Other services and production costs: £0.80
  • BBC Online: £1.08
  • Licence fee collection and other costs: £0.33