BBC Cuts Aim To Please Commercial Sector But Will Hurt Indies

The BBC’s online cutbacks take pains to placate long-critical commercial opponents, with stepbacks from showbiz, sport and specialist business news; forums and some local features. That may be good news for celeb-laden news sites like Mail Online, any publishers that do soccer coverage and, to a small extent, local newspapers.

But the cutbacks will have a knock-on effect on another part of the commercial sector – independent producers…

The BBC Trust acknowledges the 25 percent cut from BBC Online’s budget “will inevitably reduce the amount of money available for commissioning” and “will have an impact on some individual suppliers currently used by the BBC”.

Under its service licence, BBC Online was already required to commission 25 percent of eligible content and services from external suppliers. The headline budget cut means the commissioning pot will be smaller.

The suppliers behind the Switch and Blast websites (to be closed) will see a “material effect“, whilst, for those responsible for the 1Xtra, 5 Live, 6 Music and Radio 7 sites (due to be slimmed), “the loss of any income may be substantial“, the trust says.

But the trust says “very few” suppliers rely solely on BBC Online for their income and the BBC has proposed to “increase BBC Online production spend in the devolved nations, (which) will have a broadly beneficial effect on the devolved nations’ digital economies, bringing the possibility of increased employment opportunities and investment in suppliers of goods and services”.

Huggers wouldn’t quantify other specific reductions, reminding paidContent:UK that the whole issue is currently subject to two review processes – an internal BBC review and one undertaken by its BBC Trust regulator.

Commercial multimedia producers were already disappointed by the number of contracts received from the BBC. Their umbrella Pact said they received commissions worth £19 million out of an eligible £74 million last year. Pact had opposed this BBC’s budget cut.

The trust’s report was due in the autumn. paidContent:UK understands an assessment carried out for it damns the BBC for contracting too few external suppliers and for concentrating those commissions amongst a select few agencies.

Huggers told me the BBC would be “partnering with the industry when it comes to external supply”, saying Auntie “remains committed” to the quota system