The BBC’s fundamental aim to inform, educate and entertain will be put to the test severely according to its Executive Priorities and Summary Workplan for 2011/12, published in response to the need to shave its budget.
The BBC Trust has set four over-arching objectives for the organisation between now and 2016, namely to increase the distinctiveness and quality of its output, improve the value for money it provides to licence fee payers, do more to serve all audiences, set new standards of openness and transparency .
Shaping the reformation will be the need to reduce spending on running costs without compromising quality of output. To that end the BBC says that it will protect front-line content and services, making sure that reductions to the cost of running the BBC, including back-office and support functions such as HR and finance, are greater than for content areas. Yet it also ads that it will do fewer things better in content areas, ensuring it does this without reducing quality wherever possible.
It also has the bold ambition of reducing umbers of senior managers and cutting talent costs when negotiating new contracts.
The BBC says that is currently exploring how IPTV could enrich and add value to its television services. This connected broadcasting strategy will include syndication policy, red button development work, and ongoing negotiations with platforms, devices and other third parties. The strategy is still in development but is likely to work within the frameworks of current service licences. The much delayed YouView will remain a priority for the BBC across 2011/12 and alongside this; the BBC says that it will continue to develop its broader free-to-air strategy, including its involvement in joint ventures such as Freeview and Freesat, updating its strategies for these platforms to reflect the latest developments in the UK TV market.
BBC Online is set for a new shape during 2011/12, consolidating around ten audience-facing services or ‘products’ in order to give greater clarity and coherence to the audience experience. This will include a new TV & iPlayer product unifying all current Drama, Entertainment and Comedy, TV, /programmes, /archive and iPlayer offers into a cohesive experience for audiences to find, enjoy and interact with their favourite TV brands. Releases throughout the year will be developed in line with this vision.
Yet perhaps the most significant change will see a big strategy to bolster the output of BBC2, with arts channels BBC4 the big casualty of the shake up. The latter looks set to lose its drama and non-factual programming, both mainstays of the second channel.