The BBC has this year continued to produce high quality programming, covered an exceptionally busy news agenda, and has made plans to meet its financial challenges for the next five years, BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten said today.
Launching the BBC’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2011/12 alongside Director-General Mark Thompson, Lord Patten said that in his first full year as Chairman he had seen many examples of the BBC at its best, from covering the most significant world news stories to bringing 144 hours of new British drama to TV screens and attracting record audiences for factual programming.
But he warned that there will be unprecedented challenges ahead, as the BBC begins to implement the savings required by the last licence fee settlement – while continuing to drive down senior management pay, increase transparency and maintain standards across its output.
Lord Patten said:
“When I became Chairman last year I observed that, at its best, the BBC should be a broadcaster whose quality and integrity are unparalleled. When we do not achieve these standards we should resolve to do better, but overall the BBC consistently provides quality content at the touch of a button across television, radio and the internet. This has been a particularly strong year for news, which we know is one of the BBC services most valued by audiences.
“One of our main priorities is ensuring the BBC produces genuinely distinctive programmes, and progress has been made here, although there is more to do. We have also continued to push hard on value for money, encouraging the BBC to continue to drive down senior management pay and draw up a plan for living in more financially constrained times.
“George Entwistle becomes the 15th Director-General this autumn, and he inherits a BBC which I believe is in a strong position financially and editorially. I look forward to working with him to ensure the required savings are delivered without compromising the quality and distinctiveness audiences quite rightly expect from the BBC.”
BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said:
“This report, on the eve of London 2012, the biggest single broadcasting event in the BBC’s history, shows how we have been successfully transforming the BBC while delivering the quality output our audiences love and expect. We have cut costs, yet delivered a creative revival of drama on TV and radio, a very strong year for BBC Radio, continued audience growth in our digital services and new digital broadcasting and production centres in Salford and Cardiff, both delivered on time and on budget.
“This is a huge achievement and I’m very proud of everyone in the BBC who has delivered on the challenges we were set. I know they will continue to deliver for my successor, who I wish every success.”
The annual report shows that during 2011/12:
- The BBC continued to reach almost every household in the UK, with 96 per cent of people consuming BBC content via TV, radio and online every week. BBC television averaged 86.6 per cent and radio 67.3 per cent. In addition, BBC Online reached 42 per cent of the online population.
- Television audiences were introduced to 144 hours of new British drama across the year, while factual programming remained strong, with 37 million people tuning in each week.
- In radio, the audience appreciation index – which measures the quality of programmes – rose above 80 for the first time ever. Digital radio continued to grow, with 1Xtra becoming the fourth BBC digital network to reach a million listeners.
- The public continued to see the BBC as the leading source of accurate and impartial news, which continued to attract record audiences. More than 80 per cent of UK adults each week consumed the BBC’s coverage of stories such as the summer riots, Arab Spring and Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
- This was the penultimate year of the BBC’s current efficiency programme and delivered £499 million of savings against its 2008/09 baseline. These significant savings were delivered without adversely impacting overall audience numbers or appreciation. The Trust believes the BBC has the capacity to achieve even more and has set a challenging new target to deliver a further 11 per cent by 2016/17.
- This year the Trust completed its first five-year cycle of service reviews, which looked at each domestic BBC service to check it is meeting the objectives set out in its service licence. The next set of reviews will begin later this year.
- The Trust has continued to scrutinise BBC content and push for the highest editorial standards across the corporation, shining the spotlight on impartiality, with reviews in this area focusing on science output and coverage of the Arab Spring.
- Transparency – this year the BBC continued to publish senior manager pay and talent costs. The Executive published a work plan and access arrangements for the National Audit Office were improved.
- The Trust approved a new complaints framework for the BBC, which will make it simpler for people to complain as well as providing better value for licence fee payers.
Notes to editors
1) The full Annual Report and Accounts can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/annualreport/2012
2) More on the licence fee settlement and DQF:
In October 2010 the BBC and the UK Government agreed a licence fee settlement. The licence fee will be frozen at £145.50 until 2017 and the BBC will take on five new funding obligations starting in 2013. This gives the BBC stability for a further five years. By the time of Charter Renewal in 2017 the BBC will have at least 16 per cent less to spend on its existing services. The BBC identified savings and efficiencies to enable it to meet this target and these proposals were formally agreed by the Trust, with some amendments following a public consultation, on 16 May. You can read the Trust’s final DQF conclusions here:
3) A series of additional documents have been published today alongside the Annual Report and Accounts. These are as follows:
- “The BBC’s Year 2011-12”, a leaflet summarising the Annual Report, PDF file (4.8MB) Welsh version: Sut flwyddn gafodd y BBC 2011-2012
- Annual Reviews from Audience Councils for: Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.
- Television Licence Fee trust statement
- BBC World Service Annual Review (PDF file)
- Audience Perceptions and Expectations of the BBC: a review of audience research commissioned on behalf of the BBC Trust 2007-2012, PDF file (281KB)
- Research into audience perceptions of distinctiveness, commissioned by the BBC Trust and conducted by Blinc, PDF file (448KB)
- Purpose remit survey reports for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a UK summary.
- The BBC Trust’s observations on BBC arrangements for training of staff, PDF file (441KB)