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BBC could put an end to overnight programming

Director General, Mark Thompson unveils proposals to reduce spending.

A series of cost-cutting measures being considered by the BBC could see overnight programmes on BBC1 and BBC2 being axed, and natural history shows and BBC1 dramas repeated more often.

The Director General, Mark Thompson, revealed 21 proposals making up the "Delivering Quality First" (DQF) programme. It is aimed at helping the broadcaster cope with the licence freeze -- which is set to remain at £145.5 per household until 2016 -- and the additional spending obligations arising from services such as the BBC World, S4C or local news content.

His own suggestions also included turning BBC1 into the "home of regional and national programmes" and stripping BBC2 of its original daytime programmes.

Thompson also stated that close to £150 a year could be saved by axing programming between 10.35pm and 6am on the BBC's main television channels.

These slots, he explained, could be used to broadcast HD shows, which would in turn reduce the "download pressure" caused by the great number of viewers attempting to watch the latter on the BBC iPlayer. However, he made it clear that popular or key late night shows, such as BBC2's Newsnight, were unlikely to be affected.

He insisted the reason behind the DQF scheme was to "improve the quality and value of the BBC's services and maintain or increase their reach within the licence fee settlement".

However, the licence freeze will not stop the BBC from increasing revenues, Thompson argued, saying that the expected increase in the number of households along with a a drive to increase commercial revenues could equal a 10% rise in licence fee money by 2016. He assured that "closures are unlikely".

BBC staff are due to meet on 7 April to discuss the progress of the DQF so far.