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May 29, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:20am

Inside Out and regional politics shows at risk as BBC looks for cuts worth £125m

By Freddy Mayhew

BBC insiders are concerned that Inside Out and regional political shows could be scrapped as the corporation looks to find further savings following a loss of income of up to £125m caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The BBC is carrying out a review of its output in England, which is driven by its “significant financial challenges”. It already has to make £800m in savings by 2022, including £80m in the news department.

Inside Out, which has 11 regional variants and broadcasts two series a year, was due to air again in September, but has been cancelled due to concerns around social distancing while news gathering.

A BBC insider said the programme has been fast-tracked for review and there are concerns the series will be scrapped entirely, putting some 30 journalism jobs at risk.

A spokesperson said: “We’ve cancelled the second series of Inside Out this year and will continue with our single political programme for England through to the summer.

“These decisions allow us to prioritise our resources while providing the best possible service for our audiences during the current situation.”

An Inside Out special in 2010 made headlines after revealing that Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct used workers in foreign sweat shops to produce clothing for its UK stores. Ashley said some of the claims were inaccurate.

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Also feared to be at risk are the BBC’s regional Sunday politics programmes in England. The half-hour shows, which replaced Sunday Politics in 2018, have been amalgamated into Politics England during the pandemic.

Politics England is also subject to the review, which will conclude in June.

A BBC spokesperson said “everything is being looked at”, but added: “No decisions have been taken on the future of any of our content or services.”

Both Inside Out and Politics England fall under BBC England and its regional news output, which is separate from BBC News.

It is understood the BBC’s focus is on protecting its 6.30pm regional news bulletin, which is reaching record viewing figures with 20.4m in the last week of March, up 63% year-on-year.

A number of shows were taken off the air, including Politics Live and The Victoria Derbyshire Show, as the BBC reduced its output to a “core news service” when the outbreak took hold in the UK in March.

The BBC News department put plans to axe 450 jobs this year on hold as it faced up to the challenge of reporting on the coronavirus.

However, it revealed in its annual plan, published last week, that the “modernising” of the newsroom, set out by director of news Fran Unsworth in January, would go ahead, with a focus on stories rather than programmes and a reduction in news output.

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