We reported last week that the BBC is planning to abolish the BBC Concert Orchestra as part of £475 million in cuts that are needed, it says, to provide free TV to the over-75s.
The process appears to have begun. A leak to the Sunday Times today says the BBC CO is being withheld from live performances on Friday Night is Music Night, a programme popular among older listeners. It will be replaced by ‘cheaper ensembles’.
This is part of a drip-drip process that the BBC hopes will lead to a quiet orchestra abolition.
UPDATE: We have received this response from the BBC press office:
A BBC Spokesman said: ‘The portfolio of work for the BBC Concert Orchestra has a number of strands which, can and do change over time. We are increasing their workload in some areas while reducing in others – none of this calls into question the orchestra’s future. The BBC has made no decision on the free licences for over-75s and as we have said we’ll make an announcement in June. Anything beyond that is pure speculation.’
The spokesman added: ‘The BBC Concert Orchestra will still appear in Friday Night Is Music Night, it’s just the number of original programmes with the concert orchestra within that programme which will be slightly reduced.’