The BBC has announced plans to replace the four-year-old BBC HD channel with a high definition simulcast of BBC Two.
Today, the corporation confirmed a number of proposals in its Delivering Quality First initiative, aimed at saving £670m a year by 2016/7 as it faces major budget cuts under its new licence fee settlement.
The proposals include the axe of BBC Two’s daytime budget, the scaling back of BBC Three and BBC Four, as well as a small reduction in BBC One’s budget.
Also, the corporation has put forward the proposal of scrapping the BBC HD channel in favour of BBC Two HD, which will “broadcast alongside the existing BBC One HD channel”.
Launched in 2007, BBC HD initially provided a home for all of the BBC’s high definition programming, including shows from BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four. The channel also hosted the BBC’s first live 3D broadcast this July for the Wimbledon Finals.
However, BBC HD has been dogged by a picture quality controversy on satellite over the past two years, and its remit has been questioned ever since BBC One HD launched in autumn 2010.
The corporation has now proposed dropping the standalone BBC HD channel, but it is unclear what will be done with HD content from BBC Three and BBC Four under the new arrangement.
Elsewhere in the cuts proposals, the BBC said that it would reduce the BBC Red Button interactive service to make it “consistent across all digital TV platforms”. Plans were also announced earlier in the year to reduce the budget of BBC Online by 25%.
In a statement, BBC director general Mark Thompson added: “This is a plan which puts quality and creativity first. It’s a plan for a smaller BBC, but a BBC which uses its resources more effectively and collaboratively to deliver a full range of services to the public.
“The plan meets the savings target we agreed in last year’s licence fee settlement, but also identifies nearly £150m per year to invest in new high-quality output and in the platforms and services of the future.”
The BBC Trust is now running a public consultation on all the cost-saving proposals put forward by the BBC, which will close in December.