BBC spends 70m pounds to cut overheads

THE BBC spent pounds 70m on redundancies and cuts in overheads last year, in an effort to accommodate the statutory 25 per cent independent production quota and to live within its licence-fee income.

This is almost double the pounds 36.3m in reorganisation costs incurred the previous year. The annual report, published yesterday, shows the BBC cut 2,000 jobs in the year ending on 31 March. It also says that it will have to borrow for the first time to bridge short- term cash problems. These are caused by funding independent productions while still scaling down in-house operations, and the time-lag in making the savings it requires to meet the squeeze on the licence fee.

The BBC's income for 1991/92 was pounds 1.393bn. It spent pounds 1.027bn on television and pounds 338.2m on radio, and ran up a deficit of pounds 25.1m for the year.

The chairman, Marmaduke Hussey, whose annual salary rose from pounds 61,324 to pounds 65,434, says in the report that the year has been testing but that the corporation must adapt or risk becoming a fossilised relic. He sketches out its programme objectives: 'We accept that in due course the market will come to provide a fully adequate supply of certain kinds of programming. In television it will provide general entertainment channels and channels with specialist appeal. In radio it will provide local and national channels focused on particular segments of the popular music market. As the market place fills with new traders, the BBC must ensure its wares are quality wares and are not being sold at the next stall.'

Sir Michael Checkland, the director-general, says that TV subscription services of the sort pioneered by Sky, will escalate to the point where they raise an estimated pounds 2.6bn by the end of the 1990s and the BBC must find a way to share in that growth.

The BBC's most popular programmes were headed by a drama about a mother dying of cancer, Goodbye Cruel World; and also included another drama (Love Hurts), documentary (Churchill and The Second Russian Revolution); alternative comedy (Red Dwarf V) and quiz shows (Have I Got News For You).

----------------------------------------------------------------- AUDIENCE APPRECIATION ----------------------------------------------------------------- Audience appreciation ratings from the BARB Television Opinion Panel are expressed on a scale from 0 to 100. Among programmes achieving an Appreciation Index of 75 or above from the Television Panel were: ----------------------------------------------------------------- 85 Plus 80 Plus 75 Plus Goodbye Cruel World Red Dwarf V Noel's House Party Elizabeth R Love Hurts Spender Sea Trek Kinsey Churchill Bellamy Rides Again Making Out Cats The Sharp End The Second Russian Revolution Sleepers Have I Got News for You Keeping Up Appearances -----------------------------------------------------------------

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