BBC to cut some services next year

Director General says cuts to be part of strategic review

LONDON -- BBC director general Mark Thompson said Thursday that the pubcaster will cut back on some of its digital and online services and acquisitions next year as part of a wide-ranging strategic review due to be published next year.

Speaking at a media conference in London, Thompson said the first conclusions of the review would be announced in the spring, and would include a commitment to increased local production and specific boundaries beyond which the pubcaster would not launch services.

"Expect a commitment post-switchover to spend a higher proportion of the license fee on original British content than we are able to today," he told an audience of viewers and lobby groups.

"Expect to see reductions in some kinds of programmes and content -- [as well as ] a look, for example, at the current scope of our website," he added.

The pubcaster has been criticized by politicians and competitors for investing over £300 million ($495 million) a year in online and digital television and radio services that rivals say attract few viewers.

But Thompson said that while the BBC would "review" the content available via its website, he said it would be "counter-intuitive" to scale back digital investment just as the majority of viewers had digital television in their homes.

Thompson also urged viewers and listeners to support the license fee as a method of funding the pubcaster.

"At a time when so many other broadcasters are struggling with program budgets, the license fee's importance as an engine of creative investment in British talent is more important than ever."