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The BBC's Nick Higham
"BBC governors say BBC1 must go on broadcasting a wide range of programmes"
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BBC Chairman Sir Christopher Bland
"We could do better"
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Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 06:59 GMT 07:59 UK
Dyke pledges cash for 'failing' BBC
Casualty
Casualty: Among the dramas set to benefit
The BBC's Director General Greg Dyke has pledged new cash to drive fundamental changes at BBC One after the channel was attacked by the corporation's own governors.

On Wednesday, in the BBC's annual report the governors said that, although programmes such as Walking With Dinosaurs and The Royle Family had "scaled new heights", standards across both BBC One and Two were "simply too variable".

Mr Dyke responded by announcing a 58m boost to new programming, taken from the 70m the BBC has made through improved efficiency.

The reason BBC One has not got that consistency is partly to do with money

Greg Dyke

The money has already been earmarked for several different programme areas, including 15m going to fund new drama productions of Lorna Doone and Love in a Cold Climate.

But Mr Dyke said the impact would not be seen on schedules until at least Autumn 2001.

Pre-watershed worries

He said: "There have been some remarkable things on BBC One and what we want is some more consistency.

"The reason BBC One has not got that consistency is partly to do with money."

Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke: Impact will be seen next in 2001

The BBC's annual report examines all areas of the corporation's output and commercial activities.

The governors said the average quality of programmes across the year on the channel was still not good enough, particularly in the pre-watershed period.

Chairman Sir Christopher Bland conceded that on many fronts the BBC could be proud of its performance, singling out BBC Online for particular praise.

But he stressed that the BBC had to strive to provide "a distinctive public service alternative" in a broadcasting world offering increasing choice.

"Distinctive" drama missing

The governors said BBC TV's key objective to deliver programmes and services of the highest quality, range and ambition had been only partly met.

"The Royle Family, Dinnerladies and The Vicar of Dibley were not matched by pre-watershed sitcoms of comparable quality," they said.

Walking With Dinosaur
Walking With Dinosaurs: Hugely successful but expensive

They said early evening schedules relied too heavily on light factual shows at the expense of "truly distinctive" drama, comedy and serious factual programmes, which would serve viewers better.

BBC One was praised for providing a wider mix of shows in peak time than ITV, but the governors said the channel was no longer held in the same degree of affection by the public.

"Winning that affection back is vital to the future success of the whole BBC," they said.

The extra funding will go to extra episodes of popular medical dramas Holby City and Casualty as well as a special Christmas edition of the award-winning natural history series Walking With Dinosaurs.

Online success

Elsewhere, an extra 8m will go to BBC Online, which the governors said "continues to go from strength to strength".

Over the year, the number of regular users has risen by more than 50% to 3.8 million a month. Part of the cash boost will go towards the new BBC Sport Online site.

Dawn French as The Vicar of Dibley
Dawn French as The Vicar of Dibley is also praised

News of the site, however, was offset by the governors' further criticism over the number of sports institutions the BBC had let slip from its grasp.

The latest upset for BBC Sport was losing the rights to cover Premier League football highlights.

The governors said that it had now become a priority for the BBC to "develop an effective policy for sports coverage at an affordable cost".

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See also:

15 May 00 | Entertainment
A Royle night at the Baftas
14 Jun 00 | FA Carling Premiership
BBC loses Premier League rights
25 May 00 | Entertainment
ITV's entertainment backlash
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