Belfast Telegraph

Early nights for BBC as late shows face the axe

Late night programmes such as Graham Norton's chat show could be axed from BBC1, and BBC2 converted into a repeats channel, under radical cost-cutting proposals being considered by the corporation.

With inflation expected to eat into the BBC licence fee, frozen at £145.50 until the end of 2016, the corporation promised to deliver efficiency savings of 20%. Mark Thompson, the BBC Director General, outlined a series of possible reductions to services.

Programmes on BBC1 that could be axed include Graham Norton's Friday night chat show, and documentary series like Neighbourhood Watched.

The proposals, generated during staff consultation, also include axing BBC2's daytime schedule and placing more repeats from BBC1 on BBC2.

Screens could go blank or once again be filled with pages from a revived Ceefax. Insomniac viewers could enjoy repeats of broadcasts from the Open University, Mr Thompson said.

Mr Thompson promised that Question Time, Newsnight and Andrew Neil's This Week would be protected.

“We spend £150m a year on television programmes broadcast overnight, from 10.35pm to 6am,” Mr Thompson said. “Is there a way of filling this part of the schedule for less money?”

Getting rid of all post-10.35pm new programming was “one theoretical possibility”.

He called reports that the BBC was seeking to lay-off 25% of its staff were “complete b*******”.

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