BBC drama output falls by 9%, annual report reveals

Drama output across the BBC’s television channels fell by 156 hours last year, with arts content also down by 90 hours.

The figures have been released today in the BBC’s annual report, which also shows that the Corporation spent £9.5 million less on talent and £119 million less on content in 2011/12 compared with the year before.

According to the report, the total number of hours of drama broadcast on BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4 was 1,585 last year, compared with 1,741 in 2010/11, a drop of 156 hours, or around 9%.

On BBC1, 690 hours of drama were broadcast, down from 808 the year before, or 14.6%.

However, the report said the Corporation “introduced audiences to 144 hours of brand new British drama, with 46 original titles across the year”.

The report added: “Fewer acquired drama series in daytime and after peak time meant that over all there were fewer hours of drama on BBC1 this year.”

In arts and music, the BBC said it broadcast 1,860 hours of content across its four channels, down from 1,950 in 2010/11.

However, the total number of hours of drama and arts programmes broadcast on BBC Radio increased last year.

The report shows that 4,996 hours of drama were broadcast, up from 4,577 in 2010/11.

According to the BBC’s report, 16.3% of its network TV programming spend last year came Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, up from 13.2% in 2010/11.

Meanwhile, the BBC said 24.7% of its spending on network programmes came from the regions, with 59% coming from London. This was down from 62.2% the year before.

The figures come as Equity launches a campaign aimed at encouraging broadcasters to make more programmes in the nations and regions.

Overall, the BBC said it spent a total of £2.4 billion on content, down from £2.5 billion the year before, which the Corporation said “reflects the ongoing impact of our efficiency programme”.

Today’s annual report also shows that the BBC spent just over £203 million on its talent – including presenters and performers – in 2011/12.

This was down from £213 million the year before.

However, the number of performers and presenters the BBC paid fell from 53,370 in 2010/11 to 51,991 last year.

Of these, 16 people were paid more than £500,000.

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