Doctor Who vs the BBC Cutbacks

The Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has revealed his thoughts and plans on the coming cuts that his company faces now that the licence fee for television has been frozen at the flat rate of £145.50 which is basically a 16 per cent cut.

As the world faces financial trouble, the British Broadcasting company is not above it and faces re evaluation across the board to try and save nearly 300 million quid. Yikes. And this isn’t going to take place behind the cameras; we’re talking cuts to BBC News, the company’s website and across its entire TV output.

Will this mean trouble for Doctor Who and other flagship shows? The keyword is in the question really, flagship. Doctor Who is very profitable for the Beeb these days, giving high ratings for the channel on first broadcast and repeats, an absolute ton of merchandise in DVDs, CDs and gadgets that rakes in millions of pounds worldwide. Looking at things with a clear head shows like Doctor Who, Eastenders and Top Gear are what help to keep the BBC in business so it’s unlikely that we’ll see real trouble creeping up on them.

The interview even mentions Doctor Who as it talks of shows that should be less affected due to popularity, reporter Dan Sabbagh wrote:

“Thompson says that the broadcaster can pay its way while the license fee is flat, without viewers suffering unduly. He promises that no TV channels or radio stations will be closed in the forthcoming review; “this is not a 10 green bottles moment”, he argues, adding that the enduring popularity of programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who and the BBC’s channels in general mean that in fact it is unlikely that it will choose to shut any TV networks at any time in this decade.”

But cuts means loss and what Thompson is probably looking to do is target the unnecessary (in his eyes) first. This unfortunately means jobs. The interview reveals:

“Thompson says he is targeting savings worth £330m, or 3% of the total license fee, to be found by cutting “overheads”, with the aim of cutting costs “as much as we can at the beginning of the period [from now]” to release cash from elsewhere. There will be “fewer people” working at the BBC as a result, although he refuses to say how far the 23,000 workforce will be cut; the general principle is that the broadcaster has to “do fewer things better”

Twenty five per cent of the BBC’s £200 million online budget is set to go as well but will this reflect in the Doctor Who website? Certainly it’s very popular and it’s used to its full ability, especially with the recent free Doctor Who games. But in order to make money to keep funding the show could we see a pay per download service? Or a write off of the luxuries altogether? Only time will tell, it usually does.

The biggest point to take from this interview is that although there are tough times ahead, it will be dealt with sensibly. As a Doctor Who fan, you probably have nothing to worry about, it doesn’t hurt to keep an ear to the ground but the show’s future is rosy and the BBC has a lot of faith and financial security from the Time Lord and his TARDIS.

I wouldn’t like to be Doctors right now though, that’s for sure…

For the full article can be found on the Guardian website.

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What happens when an eight year old kid watches the 1993 repeat run of Planet of the Daleks? He pretty much ends up here writing about the show that grabbed hold of him and never let go!

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