BBC boss Tony Hall vows to protect drama under further cost-cutting measures

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC. Photo: Johan Persson
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BBC director general Tony Hall has revealed plans for a further £100 million of savings, but has vowed to protect the Corporation’s drama output under new cost-cutting plans.

Hall said the BBC was currently midway through Delivering Quality First, a package aimed at making £700 million of savings at the Corporation.

He said the initial plan had been to keep the BBC “more or less the same for 20% less”, but that this was no longer possible.

Hall said a BBC that stayed the same would fall “behind its competitors and the expectations of audiences”, adding that there was also “not enough money” for the BBC to stay as it was.

Speaking today at the Oxford Media Convention, he said the BBC was in the “final stages of a budget process to find an extra £100 million of savings”.

However, he said that this would not come from "salami slicing" across the Corporation, warning to do so would affect the quality of the Corporation's output in areas such as drama.

“Everyone at the BBC is proud that we got more nominations at the Golden Globes than any other broadcaster in the world. But that was on the old drama budget. If we followed the original plan, we would be cutting our television drama budget by tens of millions of pounds and I’m worried we would no longer be able to compete with the best in the world. That would have been bad not just for us, but for our audiences and for our creative industries. You could even say it would have been bad for Britain,” he said.

Hall added: “We decided we’d reached the point where salami-slicing would affect quality and distinctiveness. Rather than seek to preserve a less good version of our past, we decided to focus on what we do best: from drama to taking iPlayer into the next generation. And we agreed we needed to find the money to do that.”

The director general said the extra £100 million would bring the Corporation’s total savings over the period to 23%.

“At the same time, I want to make sure we’re spending what we’ve got well. So, over the next 12 months, we will have a fundamental look at every pound we spend. In a world of austerity, every pound counts,” he said, adding: “Our aim is to get as much money as possible on the radio, and on screen, whether a TV or a smartphone. Our budget for the next three years will see us shift around 4% more of the licence fee into our content budget, but I want to benchmark us against others to see if we could go further.”