BBC's cost-cutting moves 'hitting' younger audiences, ex-5 Live controller says


Younger viewers are bearing the brunt of BBC budget cuts while "affluent heartland audiences" are protected, the director of its London 2012 Olympic coverage has said.

Roger Mosey, a former controller of Radio 5 Live, said cuts to BBC Sport, the corporation's loss of Formula One rights and moving BBC Three online were "hitting" younger audiences.

Despite being willing to share sports coverage with other broadcasters, the "bean-counters" at the BBC were returning with a "raid on tens of millions pounds", he said.

His comments follow reports that the BBC is considering making 5 Live an online-only service as it tries to find savings to cover the £700 million annual cost of free licence fees for over-75s by 2020.

Writing in the Radio Times, Mr Mosey said: "BBC Sport across all its platforms has shown itself willing to share rights with other broadcasters and to reduce the charge for the licence-fee payer - only for the bean-counters to come back with a raid on tens of millions pounds more of the sport budget.

"It seems to be part of a pattern. The loss of Formula One on TV and the slashing of BBC Three's budget are hitting the same younger audiences.

"The affluent heartland audiences are protected, and the arts world indulged, while sport is raided; and it will compound the problem if 5 Live is next in line for emasculation."

Mr Mosey, who also served as the BBC's editorial director, left the corporation in 2013 to become the Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale announced last week that the licence fee, which currently applies to live television viewers, will be extended to anyone watching shows through the iPlayer online catch-up service.

A BBC spokesman said: "Everyone knows the BBC faces a significant financial challenge. There has already been plenty of speculation about how we can save money and best meet the needs of our audience, and there will no doubt be plenty more, but we're proud so many people share our passion for 5 Live's brilliant news and sports coverage."

A BBC spokesman added that there was no truth to reports that the BBC was considering making 5 Live an online-only service.