BBC Could Axe a Major Sporting Contract in 20pc Budget Cut

June 13, 2011

The new chairman of the BBC Lord Patten has revealed that he is prepared to axe sports events and a digital television channel in order to save the broadcasters World Service from cuts.

Lord Patten said the corporation will “not be the same” after it introduces changes later this year as part of a cost-saving initiative to cut 20 per cent from its budget.

The former Tory minister confirmed that it may not bid for expensive broadcasting rights to some major sports events, adding that niche digital television channels BBC 3 or BBC 4 could be axed and one of the main sporting events lost.

Setting out his agenda for the corporation for the first time, Lord Patten said he is determined to ensure the 16 per cent cut in real terms following last year’s licence fee settlement must not impinge on its core services, particularly the World Service.

Patten stated: “I hope that with the Foreign Secretary we can successfully mitigate the effects of some of the decisions which were taken.

“I’ll be talking to him reasonably soon. I know he regards the World Service as an important part of this country’s soft power and I’m sure that with goodwill and without megaphones we’ll be able to sort it out.”

Lord Patten of Barnes added: “I think we’re bound to face some tough decisions in the area of sport. It’s extremely difficult for the BBC to bid for as many sports rights as it would like.”