Britain's BBC moves channels online to cut costs

BBC Broadcasting House in London
A person stands outside the BBC Broadcasting House offices and recording studios in London, Britain, January 17, 2022.REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) - Britain's BBC will move its children's CBBC channel and culture-focused BBC 4 online and merge its global and national news channels in changes announced on Thursday that will save millions of pounds and make the broadcaster "digital first".

The publicly-funded broadcaster's staff will drop by up to 1,000 over the next few years, it said.

The BBC's income from a licence fee paid by all TV-watching British households has been frozen for the next two years, and will rise in line with inflation for the following four.

Director-General Tim Davie told staff that the corporation, which celebrates its centenary this year, must reform "to stay relevant and continue to provide great value for all".

The plan will save 500 million pounds ($629 million) a year, of which 200 million pounds will make up some of the licence fee shortfall and 300 million pounds will be invested in digital, including new programmes for its video on-demand iPlayer.

It was announced shortly after the government told the broadcaster to aim for one in four staff to come from a working-class background, enshrining a target the BBC had already set.

The BBC has been admired around the world for its high-quality news output, drama and documentaries by broadcasters such as David Attenborough.

But it has struggled to navigate the political and cultural disputes gripping Britain, with critics saying it has a London-centric, metropolitan viewpoint that fails to represent swathes of the country.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said on Thursday that a mid-term review of the BBC's 10-year charter would build on recent moves to make it more accountable to those who fund it.

The review would also look at the effectiveness of the BBC's complaints process and inspect its impact on the wider media landscape, the government said.

($1 = 0.7952 pounds)

Reporting by Muvija M and Paul Sandle; Editing by William James, Kylie MacLellan and Catherine Evans

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