No more repeats on the BBC, promises Grade

Mr Grade said in the Radio Times that when funding allowed, the two channels would show only new programmes, and "worthwhile reruns" would be broadcast on digital channels. He hoped to see repeats banned from BBC1 and BBC2 before the end of the next BBC charter, which ends in 2016.

He added: "As a response to what licence-fee payers tell us, the ambition must be for BBC1 and BBC2 to be repeat-free channels. This is an economic issue because it would depend on having the necessary funds to deliver only new programming. As the number of digital channels offering repeats increases, expectations of licence-fee payers will be for the main BBC channels to offer only new programming."

The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, has pledged that the savings implemented by his cost-cutting regime, of £355m by 2008, will be reinvested in programming, including cutting repeats. BBC1 already has a commitment to keep repeats below 10 per cent of peak-time hours. The BBC's annual report, published last week, showed that the channel achieved this in 2004-5, when repeats were 9.7 per cent of peak-time hours, down from 9.99 per cent the previous year.

But the overall number of hours devoted to repeats on BBC1 rose by 88 to 2,683. This was largely down to programmes that first appeared on the digital channels BBC3 and BBC4, such as the comedy series Little Britain, being "showcased" on BBC1, which counts as a repeat. Repeats on BBC2 fell by 32 hours to 4,771 hours in 2004-5.

The BBC governors have set BBC1 an objective for 2005-6 of reducing the volume of repeats shown in peak-time further. Audience research commissioned by the board of governors last year as part of a review of the channel clearly showed that viewers wanted fewer repeats in BBC1 peak time.

A separate report into perceptions of quality of BBC television output showed repeats were one of the main factors associated with low quality.

Meanwhile, Roger Mosey has been appointed the new director of BBC Sport. The former head of BBC television news replaces Peter Salmon, who resigned this year to join the independent production company Television Corporation.

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