BBC will not close its TV News Channel – BBC News

Image caption The BBC News Channel provides rolling 24-hour news coverage

The BBC has confirmed its TV News Channel will not be closed, as its annual report was unveiled.

The channel is under review – with a number of options for change or merging with BBC World News being considered – but closure has been ruled out, director general Tony Hall said.

The report also revealed that the amount paid to the BBC’s top stars has dropped by more than 2m.

The total spend on talent of 200m fell by 8m over the past year.

Image caption The BBC, which produces popular shows including Bake Off, said it reaches 96% of adults weekly

In 2015 the BBC paid 8.9m to a group of nine top earners. A year later, the number earning over 500,000 has dropped to seven unnamed employees, and their total pay is 2.3m lower at 6.6m.

Analysis by BBC media correspondent David Sillito

Ninety-three per cent of Britain’s adults turned to BBC News in the week of the European referendum. Fifty-two million visited BBC online on the day of the result. And that was just the beginning of 10 days of extraordinary news.

There was an audible gasp across the BBC newsroom when Boris Johnson announced he would not be standing for the leadership of the Conservative Party. A few months ago there were serious doubts about the future of rolling TV news, the BBC News Channel was under threat. There may well still be changes, more sharing of output with BBC World News, but the director general Tony Hall’s answer to a question about whether it would survive was an unequivocal “yes”.

There’s no doubt that the amount of news we consume through our phones will continue to rise but the place of live TV news suddenly looks a lot more secure.

The number of senior managers has also fallen by 45 to 361 and the total spent on senior managers’ pay is now 47m.

The BBC said it is reaching 96% of UK adults each week, which is a slight decrease on last year’s 97%.

Image caption BBC Online’s reach rose but appreciation of the service fell

The report revealed BBC TV has seen a small drop in its weekly reach from 82.0% to 80.3%. However, the drop is largely in line with a dip in viewing for all similar TV services.

BBC Online’s reach has increased from 50.2% to 51.4% of the UK adult population, but appreciation of the service has continued to dip.

Its AI score (a measure of opinion about the service) has dropped from 79 in 2014 to 76 in 2015 to 73 in 2016.

The BBC says the drop followed the relaunch of the BBC News site and mobile homepage.

The corporation said it has seen approval begin to recover as people get used to the new look but that it remains lower than they would wish.

BBC Radio has seen another dip in weekly listening for Radio One with the number of minutes listened to by the average listener falling by 23 minutes from six hours 37 minutes to six hours and 11 minutes.

Bullying cases have fallen

However, other services are largely stable and Radio 3 saw average listening of five hours 59 minutes rise to six hours 21 minutes. BBC 6 Music also rose from eight hours 38 minutes to nine hours and nine minutes, and its reach went up from 3.8% to 4.0%.

The report also revealed that cases of bullying have also dropped.

In a progress report, the number of bullying and harassment cases has fallen to 41 with 4 upheld, down from the previous year’s 47 cases with 13 upheld and 85 cases the year before that.

The progress report follows Dame Janet Smith’s review into the BBC’s culture and practices during the years it employed Jimmy Savile.

The BBC said after Dame Janet’s review was published it had missed opportunities to stop “monstrous” abuse by DJ Jimmy Savile and broadcaster Stuart Hall because of a “culture of fear”.

Image copyright PA
Image caption BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall announced the annual report

Lord Hall also said the BBC had received a letter from Sir Cliff Richard on the topic of legal action.

Earlier this month Sir Cliff instructed lawyers to make formal legal complaints to South Yorkshire Police and the BBC over their handling of a police raid on his home.

Police investigating historical sex allegations launched an investigation in 2014, which was filmed by the BBC.

Sir Cliff, 75, was told last month that he would not face criminal proceedings.

Lord Hall repeated the BBC’s apology to Sir Cliff for the “distress that’s been caused” for the coverage for his arrest, adding: “If the police are investigating a matter of concern….then we should report that.”

The director general also spoke about the departure of Chris Evans from Top Gear.

He said he was “really grateful” to Evans, who “gave his best”, added he had “closed the chapter on Chris and Top Gear”.

“I think he does a great job on Radio 2,” he added.

When asked if the BBC had been contacted by police regarding allegations about Chris Evans’ behaviour in the 1990s he said: “We’ve had no contact with the police”.

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