The BBC was hit hard yesterday with what amounts to a 16% budget cut. The annual amount UK viewers must pay will stay at £145.50 ($229) for 6 years. The BBC is also being forced to pick up the cost of World Service and foot the bill for Welsh-language broadcaster S4C starting in 2015. Additionally, the BBC must spend plenty for broadband expansion as well as local television and online services. But the BBC was able to escape a proposal in which it would have picked up the £556 million ($879.7 million) annual bill for providing free TV licences to viewers over 75-years-old. Top executives had made the point that the aging population would have made that a crippling, unmanageable bill. The full extent of government cuts to the arts and media is due to be announced Wednesday.