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MPs call BBC financial plans 'unambitious'

MPs call BBC financial plans 'unambitious'

The BBC was criticised by a committee of MPs yesterday for being “unambitious” in its plans to boost revenue as it makes cuts to its budget.

The Guardian reported that the public accounts committee had questioned the BBC’s plans to generate just an extra £40 million per year from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the broadcaster.

"If the target remains unchanged, the Trust should provide us with a clear explanation of why £40m is the tipping point, beyond which further rises would distort the market or be over ambitious," says the report.

The report also stated, "The BBC's plans for increasing commercial income, from £280m to £320m a year by 2016-17, are unambitious in the context of the financial pressures it faces."

Committee member Richard Bacon implied that the BBC relied too much on outside forces to ensure that it was operating as efficiently as possible. “It took the pressure of a licence fee settlement to force the BBC into setting a target of 3% annual savings, which it is comfortably on track to achieve. The BBC's assumptions about what it could deliver were unambitious," he said.

But Bacon also stated "Those who watch and listen to the BBC's services will want to know that the savings the BBC has made have not affected the quality of its output. The BBC cannot give them that assurance. As it moves from making efficiency savings to cutting services, the BBC needs to be open about how these cuts will impact on services and what it will do if quality suffers too much."

The BBC responded to criticisms, saying that it was offering the public high-quality, value-for-money output. 

The Guardian reports that BBC Worldwide posted a record underlying profit of £160 million for the year ending March 2011 – a 10% increase from the year before. 

Sources: Guardian, BBC


Hannah Vinter


2012-03-07 18:51

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