Exclusive: BBC-TV sacks classical music department

Exclusive: BBC-TV sacks classical music department


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2016

We hear that the entire staff of the classical music department at BBC Television have been offered redundancy as part of the latest structural reorganisation.

When we sought conformation, a BBC press officer sent us this press release.

Pressed for a yes-or-no answer, she said: ‘Classical music programme (sic) on television is an important part of BBC Studios and we will continue to make them.  But in a new world where BBC television programming is open to 100% competition and a reduced licence fee, we are reshaping to be more flexible and able to compete.’

Pressed again, she said: ‘The process is still underway so I am unable to answer your original question on whether or not the entire department would be laid off.’

bbc broacasting house

Essentially, the BBC is having one of its periodic clearouts and the classical production team is in the front line.


  • V.Lind says:

    Literacy standard not very high at the BBC these days, it seems. That screed is school-leaver stuff — from nowadays, I mean — when I went to school we left primary school fully literate. Even the press release uses the word “its’ ” — whatever form that might be meant to suggest. Not content to abuse “it’s” and “its” at will they now have come up with a third option.

    Well might they duck the main issue, though. They would not be the first to give up on classical programming. At least they seem a little ashamed of it.

  • Maria says:

    Does this tell us anything about the future of the BBC’s four symphony orchestras?

    Maybe not, but I’d be updating my CV as a precaution.

    • Tommy says:

      You mean 5 orchestras, surely? Or do you know something we don’t?

      • Maria says:

        BBC Philharmonic
        BBC Symphony Orchestra
        BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
        BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

        I assume you’re referring to the BBC Concert Orchestra? I confined the comment to full sized symphony orchestras because I think they might be most at risk.

        Or maybe not. Just an opinion.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    One pines for the days when the BBC aspired to be second-rate.

  • CHRIS FINAN says:

    No proms next year then?

  • Simon J Evnine says:

    The Proms apart, there’s never much classical music on BBC TV.

    There used to be a Friday evening slot of BBC4 but that seems to have gone !

  • Steven Burnard says:

    BBC has 5 symphony orchestras. BBC Symphony , Concert, Philharmonic , Welsh and Scottish Orchestras.

  • Raphael Mouterde says:

    And I just paid my TV license…

  • Anon says:

    There’s no real need for the BBC TV to have a “Classical Music Department”. Classical music programming belongs within music programming, and the production of classical music programmes can readily (and often is) be carried out by companies and freelancers outside the Beeb, just as HIGNFY, Masterchef, and many other programmes are.
    (Indeed, most of the resources to make the few Classical Music TV programmes that there are, even when ostensibly “made by the BBC”, are pulled in from outside anyway, it’s just the management name is different).

    Wider question – why does the BBC need any orchestras at all? They began in order to provide music for programmes, but this is often now non-orchestral, or sourced from elsewhere. Everything else gets updated and moves with the time; and there are plenty of orchestras outside the BBC providing core classical performance. Why need the TV licence fund five orchestras?

    • Sebastian Petit says:

      I’m not surprised you’re anon with ridiculous views like this. Shame on you!

      • John Murphy says:

        Mr Anon belongs I’d say to the world where he knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Prime managerial material or a business consultant.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      If you can’t articulate why the BBC should fund an orchestra (or four) which isn’t being used to support programming, then I think Anon has a good point. Perhaps these orchestras, if we want them to continue, should be funded directly from the Arts budget (suitably augmented) rather than from the BBC licence fee.

  • Devoid of Culture says:

    I have been bombarding BBC complaints ad nauseum why they have no culture at all on TV. BBC 1, 2, 3 4 re garbage channels full of repeats. Keep sending in complaints why no opera, why no Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner, Wagner has BBC TV gone down the U-bend of repeats?