Gov't deal on license fee leads to cut-backs

LONDON — Further cuts to the BBC’s acquisitions budget are in the cards following the recent deal that froze the pubcaster’s funding for the next six years at its present level.

Topper Mark Thompson said that acquired shows would be one of his first targets as he attempts to save £500,000 million ($784,000).

In his first newspaper interview since the license fee deal was stuck with the coalition government in October, Thompson declined to put a figure on how much he would cut the acquisitions budget.

He told the Guardian that details would emerge in the New Year once he had held “a big conversation” with colleagues aimed at assessing the BBC’s priorities.

Earlier this year the pubcaster announced plans to cut its $156 million acquisitions budget by a quarter.

Recently the Corp. lost exclusive U.K. rights to Lionsgate skein “Mad Men,” and was unable to bid seriously for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” following May’s L.A. Screenings.

Both shows were picked up by paybox BSkyB, which, in contrast to free-to-air webs, has increased its content spend. There has been speculation that BBC buyers are no longer able to agree life-of-series deals with distributors as economies bite.

Thompson signalled that he expects to make $517 million efficiency savings over the next few years by reducing overheads, cutting 25% from the online budget of around $313 million a year, and merging the BBC World Service with BBC News in 2014.

“However well-resourced the BBC is, we cannot afford to run two global news operations,” Thompson said.

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