Pubcaster to spend $398 mil

LONDON — The BBC, fighting rolling strikes as it attempts to negotiate 4,000 job cuts, is to spend an extra £220 million ($398 million) a year on new-media projects and digital services.

The BBC will use the cash to invest in the digital switchover, new-media platforms and navigation, a digital curriculum for schools, a digital archive of TV programs for libraries, plus news and radio services for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the English regions.

According to the BBC’s director of new media and technology, Ashley Highfield, the investment will be spread across jobs, rights, hardware, software and distribution from 2008 onward.

A BBC spokesman denied that extra cash for digital services would mean less money for content.

“We don’t accept that new media and programming are mutually exclusive,” he said. “The BBC is committed to providing, and investing in, world-class programs for its audiences, but it also recognizes that the broadcast environment is changing.

“The introduction of digital television and new-media platforms mean that our audiences have new ways of accessing our programs and of interacting with the BBC.”

The pubcaster is engaged in a controversial program of cutbacks to save $642 million a year, which it hopes to achieve by axing 4,000 jobs plus selling off BBC Broadcast and BBC Resources.

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