BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons has said the corporation will be smaller and more "distinctive" five years from now.
In an interview on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, he said he also wanted the BBC to continue to contribute to the "very nature of the country".
But he warned no part of the BBC was exempt from the "search for greater value" which began after it did not get the licence fee increase it sought.
The trust is due to unveil a report into the BBC's six-year plan this week.
In the interview, Sir Michael said less money and many demands from different audiences and technologies meant fewer programmes would be made.
"The only way this budget is going to be balanced is by doing less," he told Andrew Marr.
But this would mean resources could be concentrated so there would be no reduction in quality, he said.
"The BBC needs to be more distinctive doing things that other people don't do, and also those things it does do, doing them in a distinctive way."
He also ruled out a change to the policy of minimising repeats on primetime BBC One.
Asked if there would be more reshowings of popular shows on BBC channels Two, Three and Four, he said there would be repeats.
It has been reported that thousands of jobs could be lost as director general Mark Thompson attempts to allow for the corporation's estimated £2bn budget shortfall.
Sir Michael declined to go into specifics on the extent of any cutbacks.
He said: "There are no protected areas. If you can do things more effectively in any areas, even the priority areas of news and current affairs, then you have to make those savings."
Earlier this week, Sir Michael told leading broadcasters who have criticised proposed savings to stay out of the public debate.
It followed journalists including John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman publicly voicing their concerns about cutbacks.
"I'm not looking for a fight with any particular presenter," Sir Michael told Andrew Marr.
He said he welcomed "flourishing" debate within the BBC but said it would be regrettable if the public heard an internal battle, which was essentially a "self-protectionist battle".
"What they want to hear... is every pound is being squeezed to get the maximum value. And the BBC is going to be more distinctive in the future.
"We are going to offer something to every licence fee payer but equally we are going to cherish those loyal audiences and the products and programmes which they put the highest value on."
In recent months, the BBC has been making efforts to restore public trust in the wake of a number of widely reported editorial breaches.
Sir Michael acknowledged there had been some serious errors revealed but said they were neither "apocalyptic" nor had they fundamentally threatened the corporation.
He suggested taking a lesson from the England rugby team's exploits in the World Cup.
"When times are looking hard, just concentrate on the core job and that will see you through," he said.
Mr Thompson will announce the cuts next Thursday, a day after he presents his final plans to the BBC Trust.