BBC promises to increase drama spending despite budget cuts

Broadcaster has cut its outlay on presenters and other stars by 15 per cent since 2009

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The Independent Online

The BBC will today promise to increase spending on drama and other programming in spite of recent reductions in its budgets.

Publishing its annual report this morning, the broadcaster is expected to announce cuts of £6m in spending on talent, down to £194m, meaning it has cut its outlay on presenters and other stars by 15 per cent since 2009.

It will also announce a reduction of 8 per cent in its roll of senior managers, with the number of executives on more than £100,000 being lowered for the fourth year in a row, down to 232.

The cuts follow fierce criticism by MPs of the BBC over the generous salaries and redundancy settlements it has paid to its management.

The broadcaster last week announced a net loss of 220 posts in BBC News as part of cost savings resulting from the last licence fee settlement in 2010, which effectively reduced the BBC production budget by 26 per cent. But the corporation is promising to increase the percentage of its income that it spends on content and delivery by 4 per cent over the next three years, with drama a priority. This could amount to up to £200m. Two of the BBC's biggest successes in the past year have been the dramas Sherlock and Happy Valley.

Last week the broadcaster faced criticism from the BBC Trust over the lack of distinctiveness on BBC television. The governing body called for the executive to take more creative risk in its programming.

A BBC source said: “Clearly we have not got everything right in the past but we are now on the right track and even with a significant fall in BBC funding we are delivering the programmes and content that our audiences love.”