From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: There’s a great scoop in this morning’s Times of London but it’s bad news for American television producers: the BBC could have 1/3 less to spend on importing Hollywood TV shows such as Mad Men and Heroes. That’s because the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, is to try and push BBC boss Mark Thompson into slashing his £100 million U.S. acquisition budget by 33%. Current plans call for the state broadcaster to cut its foreign programme budget by 25%. The plans are detailed in a strategic review of the BBC, due to be published next month, a copy of which was leaked to the newspaper. The overhaul also includes closing two radio stations and shutting half of its website.
The review assumes that the annual £3.6 billion state grant will be frozen in 2013. The overhaul will be seen as an attempt to show the Tories that that the BBC doesn’t need government intervention to get its house in order. The Tories have been unhappy about how big the BBC has grown for some time. Mark Thompson, the head of the BBC, will admit that the state broadcaster has become too large, and must shrink to give the private sector a chance. The BBC is already the size of the British book publishing industry. Rivals have long complained that the BBC just maps everything they do commercially, putting them out of business.