BBC comedy declared “at risk”

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BBC comedy declared “at risk”

British Comedy Guide writes..

  • A report on the BBC‘s TV output from regulator Ofcom has classed comedy as an “at risk” genre
  • Ofcom found that the amount of original comedy on the BBC has dropped by more than 40% in the last decade
  • The BBC says: “We remain devoted to unearthing, nurturing and championing the best emerging new and diverse British comedy talent”

Comedy has been classified as an “at risk” genre, as figures show the amount of original comedy shown on the BBC has declined by more than 40% over the last decade.

Ofcom’s Annual Report on the BBC (April 2019 – March 2020) found that the number of hours of “first-run” programming, excluding repeats and acquisitions from other broadcasters, as well as nations’ and regions’ programming and broadcasts on BBC HD, dropped from 225 hours in 2010 to 132 hours in 2019, the last year for when figures are available – a cut of 41%.

British Comedy Guide understands that the public service broadcaster is poised to announce a raft of new comedy commissions across its channels. However, on Wednesday the corporation warned that it will have to make cuts of approximately £408 million to programmes and services budgets, instigated by new Director-General Tim Davie as part of a bid to shore up its finances.

The decline in hours of original comedy has been steady over the last ten years, with 10 hours fewer in 2019 than in 2018, a 7% drop.

The broadcasting regulator also noted that spend had fallen significantly over the last decade, with a drop of 29% across all at-risk first-run programming, which it identifies as comedy, children’s, specialist factual, religion and ethics, music and arts.

Despite this, “the BBC’s overall reach is still very high, with almost nine in ten adults consuming its content on a weekly basis” the report observed, highlighting the success of the 2019 Gavin & Stacey Christmas special, which was the most-watched scripted programme of the decade.

Ofcom also noted that the BBC continues to show more at-risk programming and more first-run at-risk programming than other public service broadcasters.

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