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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
BBC spends extra 21m on TV shows
Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams
A third series of Little Britain will be broadcast on BBC Three
The BBC will spend an extra 61m on programmes, including 21m on television shows, it has announced in its annual statement.

The corporation's programme budget will increase to 2.178bn this year, with extra drama and comedy on BBC TV.

It will air fewer repeats, makeover and lifestyle shows in BBC One's peak time.

Director general Mark Thompson aims to cut 2,050 programme-making jobs among 3,780 job losses at the BBC, prompting a union ballot on strike action.

BBC STATEMENTS OF PROGRAMME POLICY 2005-2006
Main pledges:
Reduce peak time repeats on BBC One
Reduce peak time makeover and lifestyle shows on BBC One
Invest more in original UK comedy and drama
Make digital services more widely available
Meet highest standards of accuracy, fairness and impartiality
Ensure changes to complaints process are implemented
Last month Mr Thompson said money saved in the job cuts, representing 19% of the workforce, would go back into programmes.

In the BBC's Statements of Programme Policy it pledges to broadcast more current affairs and a greater range of drama at peak viewing time on BBC One, including a multi-part adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

A new David Attenborough series, Life in the Undergrowth, will debut on BBC One and popular series Waking the Dead, Cutting It and Worst Week of My Life will return.

David Attenborough
David Attenborough will present BBC One's Life in the Undergrowth

BBC Two is set to broadcast "distinctive, thought-provoking" series such as Peter Ackroyd's Romantics and dramas Rome and To the Ends of the Earth.

Bafta TV Award-winning comedy Little Britain will return to digital channel BBC Three for a new series, as will Nighty Night and The Smoking Room, joined by new comedy Funland.

An extra 2m will be invested in digital channel BBC Four, "to help make the channel more accessible in tone", with forthcoming programmes including Islamic History of Europe and Shakespeare's Happy Endings.

BBC News will receive an extra 11m to cover the upcoming general election and the BBC's website, bbc.co.uk, will test a full interactive media player which will allow users to watch BBC programmes on demand.

Mark Thompson
The BBC needs to be more committed than ever to focus on excellence in everything it does
Mark Thompson, BBC director general

BBC Radio 3 will broadcast a number of high-profile classical music events in the coming year, including the complete works of Beethoven, Webern and Bach.

Five local television news pilots will be launched in the West Midlands as the first stage in a plan to establish a network of 60 local TV services, each providing daily 10-minute news bulletins.

The corporation aims to make savings of 105m from 1 April to 31 March 2006, towards its target of annual savings of 355m by 2008.

'The beginning'

"This year marks the beginning," said Mr Thompson. "Over the coming year we will offer a range of television, radio, and new media services, each underpinning the BBC's unique public service remit and delivering public value."

He added: "Over the next 10 years, as the media industry moves into a period of unprecedented change, the BBC needs to be more committed than ever to focus on excellence in everything it does."

Nighty Night
Dark sitcom Nighty Night will return for a second BBC Three series
BBC chairman Michael Grade said: "The BBC must be judged on the delivery of its promises."

He said the Statements of Programme Policy "demonstrate focus and continued commitment to deliver to the British public a range of services that they value for their quality and originality in return for their licence fee".

But three BBC unions - Bectu, Amicus and the National Union of Journalists - are due to ballot members for strike action this week over the planned BBC cuts.

Live TV and radio coverage of the general election and Wimbledon could be targeted if BBC staff decide to take industrial action.

Last Friday journalists at BBC News 24 announced they would enforce a work-to-rule policy in protest at the job cuts, ahead of the union ballot.


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