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Rising cost of sports rights force BBC to reassess savings target

UK public-service broadcaster the BBC has raised its savings target by £100m (€128.5m/$141.6m) to £800m per year over the next five years, blaming an increase in the cost of sports rights and producing quality drama programming.

BBC director general Tony Hall said the measures were needed to exist in an increasingly competitive media marketplace, as well as to accommodate the financial settlement agreed with the UK government in July.

The BBC states the total savings needed in the first five years of the next licence fee period account for 23 per cent of the current annual licence fee revenue of £3.7bn. Hall announced last year that the BBC would need to save around £700m per year after agreeing to take on the cost of funding free television licences for people aged over 75 from the government.

Hall has now called on the government not to backtrack on what he considers an agreement to increase the licence fee in line with inflation. “The agreement we came to with the government last July is the agreement,” he said, according to The Guardian newspaper. “It gives us financial stability… So I shouldn’t now need to point out that we cannot live with any further cuts.”