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The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has revealed that over half of its television schedule is comprised of repeat programming, sparking concerns over the efforts made by the Corporation to develop new and original material.
The Daily Mail first reported on this topic and showed that while the percentage of repeat programming is less on the BBC’s main television channel, BBC One, there is still data which proves that the percentage is growing during peak viewing hours. At present, 61% of the BBC television schedule consists of repeats, encompassing such classic shows as ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and ‘Dad’s Army’ as well as nightly repeats of the cult animated series ‘Family Guy’ and ‘American Dad.’
These figures were commissioned by Freedom of Information who made a claim suggesting that the BBC is failing in its duty to provide ‘original programming,’ an obligation which is a clear part of the Corportation’s Royal Charter – an agreement which establishes its duties in detail.
It is thought that increasing budget cuts are a part the reason for the number of repeats currently offered on any one of the BBC’s networks (at present this consists of: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC HD and BBC CBeebies). However, with recent additions to the corporation’s broadcasting services, namely BBC iPlayer, it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of viewers who have taken issue with this ‘repeat’ situation.
Regardless, this is not the first time that the BBC has come under fire for its failure to focus on developing new comedies and dramas. David Jason, the star of the long-running and frequently-repeated BBC sitcom ‘Only Fools & Horses’ publicly lambasted the BBC back in 2005 over its constant showings of past programmes:
“If I were in charge I’d not allow Only Fools and Horses to be repeated so often … British TV is too safe and too cheap these days. We’ve got to be careful not to dumb down for the audience. They shouldn’t be sitting at home on the sofa vegetating.”
In the seven years since Jason first made his feelings known, it would appear that the problem has only become more severe. According to the BBC’s figures released to Freedom of Information, “just 15.8 per cent of programming on BBC3 and only 21.2 per cent on BBC4 was new” over the last 12 months. While these two networks have significantly shorter broadcasting hours than the two main BBC networks, the fact remains that there is a clear imbalance at work in the way that the BBC creates its schedule.
Rival network ITV has already made one move towards addressing similar scheduling concerns by removing the Saturday omnibus edition of its flagship series ‘Coronation Street.’ Such a move has surprised audiences and those involved with the series, according to The Sun, but it is possible that the move towards digital viewing services has eliminated ITV’s need to re-broadcast an entire week’s work of episodes on its schedule.