BBC 'set to ditch The Voice over £55m cost'
The BBC could be set to ditch talent show The Voice in the face of pressure to shake up its programming output.
A source within the BBC said it "would not get into a bidding war" with rival broadcasters over the singing competition, deemed the corporation's answer to ITV's The X Factor.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has already ordered a root-and-branch examination of what service licence fee payers receive.
He acknowledged the public demand for entertainment, b ut questions have been raised about whether the BBC will be able to justify paying premiums for the likes of Saturday night programming such as The Voice, whose celebrity judges have included crooner Tom Jones, popstar Rita Ora and hit-maker will.i.am.
A BBC spokesman said: "It is incorrect to say the BBC has axed The Voice and we are in negotiations about its future."
It came as the Mirror reported the BBC would ditch the show over its £55 million cost.
A BBC source said: "We love The Voice and want to keep it, but we are not getting into a bidding war for it."
The public service broadcaster has previously launched a defence of popular programming like The Voice and The Great British Bake Off, saying that licence fee payers expect the BBC to "deliver entertainment".
In "an evidence-based response" to Mr Whittingdale's green paper on its future, the corporation hit back at whether it should have a more "precisely targeted" mission in terms of its output.
This week, Rona Fairhead - chairman of the BBC Trust which governs the corporation - told the Lords' Communications Committee that the BBC should provide a "universal service" that broadly serves the UK rather than striving to do "everything for everybody".
Ms Fairhead said consultations with the public demonstrated the need for value for money, and that the licence fee model was deemed the best way to achieve this, rather than through corporate advertising and direct government funding.
She said previous input from the public resulted in a focus on "distinctive drama" on BBC One, citing the television adaptation of Hilary Mantel's historical drama Wolf Hall as an example of high-quality output.