What the BBC’s Freeze In Public Funding Teaches Us About Cost Control

We’re all pretty much familiar with the BBC, right? It’s that one popular British network. You know, the one that funds all those nature documentaries and whatnot. Actually, it’s a bit more significant than that. While we may not extend due reverence to the BBC here in the States, you’d better believe that they’re a veritable and inextricable part of life for just about every living soul that lives across the pond.

There are several BBC channels.

There are several BBC channels.

The British Broadcast Corporation runs a rather expansive system of media content, with 10 television channels, 16 radio stations, and a host of web services under its umbrella. They’ve even got a newfangled internet TV service in the pipeline as well, just to keep things innovative. By the way, according to their wiki page, they happen to be the largest broadcaster in the world, with over 21,000 current staff. All in all, they’re the kind of brand entity that likes to call their own shots—and until recently, they’ve been able to do so.

Well, according to its detractors, the BBC has gotten a little too big for its britches lately, and they’re now under fire for poor cost-control. Long story short, the British government is saying that the company spends way too much (and the fact that that they’re allocating over 500 staff workers for coverage of the royal wedding probably doesn’t help). As a result, the company has agreed to put a freeze on their public funding through 2017, according to a New York Times article.

Get it? "Frozen funds?"

Get it? "Frozen funds?"

The BBC has historically relied on public funding in order to maintain the massive scope of its operations. Much of its annual income is generated through a yearly TV licensing fee—which extends to all British homes—in the amount of 145.50 Euros or pounds or sixpence or whatever (basically $250.00 annually). The freeze on their funding will force them to enact budget cuts in excess of $2 billion and to lay off hundreds of their workers in the next several years. The revered company has already started cutting employee pensions and plans to relocate many of them as well.

Of course, another big concern is the amount of content that the BBC will be forced to cut in order to meet their goal. The company’s chief operating officer has hinted at a number of avenues being considered, “like eliminating middle-of-the-night television service, reducing the number of radio stations, and offering fewer political programs,” according to the article.

Are fewer political programs the answer?

Are fewer political programs the answer?

While the budget cuts aren’t likely to affect many of the company’s more popular programs (rest assured, they’re not going to be cancelling Doctor Who anytime soon), it’s unfortunate to think that they have to resort to such decision-making in the first place. The BBC is probably one of the few examples of a company whose name contains the word “corporation” yet manages not to carry that negative connotation that normally comes with it. That’s quite a feat in and of itself, though it unfortunately won’t put a damper on bad press.

If anything, it goes to show that even for the most longstanding and respected brands, there are always repercussions for your business practices.

Note to all businesses—spend wisely!

What else can be learned from the BBC’s funding freeze? Do you have any tips for cost control in business?

Joseph Giorgi

Joseph is the head of the Media Team at Quality Logo Products. He's a video specialist, blogger, perfectionist, and all-around likeable guy. When he's not busy focusing on the nitty-gritty details of his written and visual work, he's normally listening to bad 80s music and scouring the internet for useless information on useless subjects. You can also connect with Joe on Google+.


  1. Jana Quinn

    You get points for using the word “inextricable.” You lose them for citing Wikipedia.

    I’d be interested to find out what kind of shenanigans the BBC is getting itself into that the government feels the need to take away its lunch money.

    I believe the proper term for British currency is the “right-o.”

    • Joseph Giorgi

      I lost my points? Awww, c’mon. 🙁

      I’d like to think it was more of a ‘reference’ to Wikipedia, since I didn’t really use their actual words or description. Can I at least get some of my points back?

      • Jana Quinn

        You broke even, because you had the points from “inextricable.” Don’t get greedy.

        If you wear a Snuggie, I may reconsider.

  2. Bret Bonnet

    Only spend $ that you have, debt in all forms is the DEVIL.

    Cash is KING! 🙂

    … I really like watching the Blu-Ray series “LIFE” and others from the BBC.

    The cinematography is amazing.

    Seriously, if I’m in a BAD mood, I turn this on and it relaxes me. I wish I could visit HALF of the places featured in the films.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Agreed. Every single second of “Life” is pretty much a visual feast—on Blu-ray, that is.

  3. Jill Tooley

    I love BBC! It’s a shame they’re having so many issues. 2 billion dollars in cuts is going to hurt, especially when you think about how many people will be losing their jobs. So sad! 🙁 You’re right about cost control, though. Sending 500 people to report on the royal wedding does seem superfluous! I wonder what else they’ve been spending their money on? And why would they decide to cut political programs first? It seems like they’d cut sitcoms before they’d cut that…but then again, they probably get higher ratings for TV shows than they do for those types of shows.

    P.S. I’m glad to hear that Doctor Who is safe! Sounds like BBC needs The Doctor now more than ever! 😉

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Cutting a few of their political programs was just one of the ideas that they were tossing around. I think I read that they were considering several different possibilities as far as their future programming was concerned, but I could only find the one quote to cite. I’m not sure how much else they have in mind. But yes, I think we can all agree that ‘the Doctor’ is the kind of cash cow that they can’t afford to lose at this point.

  4. cyberneticSAM

    PHEW! My Doctor Who!!!! Thanks for letting me know, sweets! I hope they don’t cut BBC3, some of the best shows come from there! Very appropriate post today, I am sure the royals want nothing more than to end the night watching a bit of the telly after their long day of fancy carriage rides and billion dollar wedding cake…. I know I would. I am surprised that they are having such budget issues as the taxation on television, not to mention you have to purchase a telly license to even own a television, how did this happen? Can you imagine if we did that here!?! I would simply wither away without my BBC!!!! It is just a shame that this is what it came to… Great post! 🙂

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Something tells me that the royal couple isn’t going to be ending their wedding night by “watching a bit of the telly.” That’s all I’m saying.

      • cyberneticSAM

        Well, I was just saying that is what I would do…

  5. Juliette

    Poor BBC!! And I’m being incredibly selfish when I say that I hope this doesn’t affect the new season of Sherlock that I’ve been waiting for. (I only recently started watching Doctor Who so I’m not as attached to that series.)

    I’m also wondering what else they’ve been spending money on that is getting them in trouble. And though the wedding was huge I can’t see the point in having 500 staff members cover it. Heck, even half that seems somewhat excessive.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      I’m guessing that their cutbacks probably won’t affect the shows that currently rake in a high viewership (i.e. Sherlock, Doctor Who, Top Gear, Robin Hood, etc.). I’d imagine that the BBC would want to hang on to these programs for as long as they feasibly can, seeing as how they constitute a big part of the company’s identity these days.

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