The BBC can make more efficiency savings rather than relying on cuts to shows, the head of the public spending watchdog has suggested.
In response to the two-year freeze on the licence fee this year, the broadcaster’s director-general refused to rule out BBC2, BBC4 or Radio 5 Live being axed.
But speaking in front of peers yesterday, comptroller and auditor general of the National Audit Office Gareth Davies said he would ‘strongly resist’ the idea there are no efficiency savings left.
He told the Lords’ communications and digital committee it was ‘very unlikely that an organisation the size of the BBC has run out of opportunities to make productivity gains’.
Alan Shearer (pictured) was the highest paid sports pundit at the BBC last year earning up to £394,999
Mr Davies said the NAO’s work at the corporation showed there was ‘still duplication’ and pointed to the fact there were three teams dealing with advertising revenue from the US.
Tory peer Baroness Harding asked whether there was ‘scope’ for the BBC to maintain or improve the proportion of cost savings from efficiencies.
Mr Davies said: ‘We would strongly resist the argument that there are none left or that they’re very hard to access. I think there are still some big opportunities there.’
He added: ‘There is still duplication in some of the structures in the BBC. There are three teams dealing with advertising revenue from the US.’
Tory peer Baroness Harding (above) asked whether there was ‘scope’ for the BBC to maintain or improve the proportion of cost savings from efficiencies
In a recent talk BBC director-general Tim Davie said the corporation would look to ‘find other efficiencies to protect what you get for your licence fee’. But he added it was ‘beginning to run out of road’.
After January’s licence fee deal, he suggested cuts to shows and services were ‘inevitable’.
He said the settlement ‘will affect our frontline output’ and when it came to cuts ‘everything’s on the agenda’.
During the hearing Louise Bladen, director of NAO, talked about rising costs for the BBC.
She said it had claimed that if its sports pundits worked for a commercial organisation ‘they would be earning four to seven times more’.
In a recent talk BBC director-general Tim Davie (pictured) said the corporation would look to ‘find other efficiencies to protect what you get for your licence fee’
Alan Shearer was the highest paid sports pundit at the BBC last year earning up to £394,999.
According to reports the top pundits at Sky Sports are paid about £1million.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘Like any major organisation the job of finding and making savings is never over and while that challenge may get harder, we will always look for opportunities to make efficiencies and continue to deliver great value for the licence fee payer.’
Peers were also told that the BBC had ‘performed better’ at collecting the licence fee from over-75s than it had budgeted for when the charge was introduced for this group.