BBC drama threatened by cutbacks

Jane Tranter warns budgets are at 'breaking point'

LONDON -- Outgoing BBC drama head Jane Tranter warned Monday that BBC drama budgets have been cut back to "near breaking point" and that U.K. production is being endangered by cost-cutting and cutbacks.

Speaking at the Media Guardian Changing Media summit in London, Tranter (pictured) said that economies across the board at the BBC have left commissioners "on the floor in terms of what we can ask producers to do -- there is not much more that we can cut back," she told an audience of media execs.

Citing "highly-co-productable" ideas as a possible way to bridge funding gaps, Tranter said that the industry is increasingly confronting "smaller pots of money."

"There's really not much more we can cut without endangering not just the quality of the work, but also the quality of the lives of the people who work on these things," she added.

Tranter, who will arrive in Los Angeles in January to head BBC Worldwide's scripted and reality production business, said she is excited about the U.S.-based position but will take time to find her feet.

The commissioner of such hit shows as "Doctor Who," "Mistresses" and "Life on Mars" said that U.S. drama is both "radically different and in many ways the same" as the output she oversees in the U.K.

"I think drama is drama, the big thing I have got to learn is, when I get a really good script, to know the best place to place it," she said.

Tranter, who will take the post of BBC Worldwide executive vp programming and production, said the pubcaster's commercial arm will offer "something that has at its heart BBC production values and will see where they best fit in."
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