BBC Pursues Digital Investment Despite Budget Crisis

17 October 2007

LONDON: BBC director general Mark Thompson (pictured) will today meet with the corporation's trustees to outline cost-cutting measures. He has made it clear, however, that the broadcaster's "digital future" will not be sacrificed on the altar of budget shortfalls.

Director of future media and technology, Ashley Highfield, says the publicly-funded BBC will continue to expand its iPlayer online video service, enabling viewers to access programmes up to a week after transmission.

Highfield says the broadcaster will make versions of the iPlayer accessible to Apple Computer's Mac users, members of Facebook's social network site and 7,500 wi-fi hotspots around the country.

The BBC hopes such new distribution deals will attract a younger audience, especially through mobile access to its website.

Meanwhile, Thompson is expected to put before BBC Trustees - the corporation's twelve-member independent governing body - his controversial plan for up to 2,800 job losses.

The broadcaster is struggling to meet a budget £2 billion ($4.07bn; €2.87bn) lower than it hoped when the government set its licence fee.

Thompson believes the BBC must invest in digital technology to safeguard its future and to fulfil its public service remit.

He declares: "If we do not invest in this future, if we instead draw up the wagons around our existing services, the BBC will rapidly cease to be relevant to our audiences and will lose its power to be a force for good in British national life."

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff