BBC channels filled with repeats, analysis shows
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A snapshot of a week’s scheduling across the corporation’s four TV channels in late June found most programmes on BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four were repeats with little new for viewers to watch.
Our analysis reveals 52 per cent of airtime on BBC Two in the week ending June 24 was spent broadcasting re-runs.
This rose to a massive 85 per cent and 87 per cent on BBC Three and BBC Four respectively.
BBC One did offer a majority of fresh content, with two-thirds (66 per cent) of its programming new to the airwaves, although the channel’s daytime schedule in the sampled week contained six long-running BBC shows that were shown every weekday, most of which were repeats.
They included Homes Under the Hammer and Bargain Hunt, which also found their way on to the BBC Two schedule with further repeats during the same week’s listings.
Repeats of Money for Nothing, Escape to the Country, Garden Rescue and Antiques Road Trip were shown during the same three-hour afternoon slot every weekday on BBC One.
With household budgets under strain due to the mounting cost-of-living crisis, the BBC is under growing pressure to justify the value people are getting for their £159 licence fee.
The corporation, which had an income of £5 billion last year, defended its output and specifically highlighted the amount of new content on at peak time on BBC One.
A spokesperson said more than 90 per cent of BBC One’s peak time schedule was filled with new programmes that week, “from Sherwood and The Outlaws to Avoidance, Top Gear and The Great British Sewing Bee”.
But outside of BBC One peak time, the channels were awash with repeats.
The majority of BBC Two’s schedule across the week was re-runs, with Saturday’s line-up entirely repeats apart from two music programmes in the evening. Saturday afternoon’s 1950s film double bill – The Nun’s Story and The African Queen - was subsequently then repeated on BBC Four on the following Thursday.
Repeats of the antiques programme Flog It! featured on six days during the week while re-runs of the Richard Osman Games Show and The Farmers’ Country Showdown occupied to 6pm to 7pm slot on every weekday.
In response, the BBC highlighted the channel’s new content during the week including Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain, The Chris and Rosie Show, Stereophonics Live and Glastonbury: 50 Years and Counting.
The number of repeats was even more pronounced on BBC Three and BBC Four, which both begin broadcasting programmes from 7pm daily.
The entire BBC Three schedule from 7pm on Sunday evening through to its end at 3.55am on Monday was made up of re-runs including three repeats shown before midnight which were then broadcast again in the early hours.
The schedules for Monday and Thursday offered the same pattern of viewing with a two-minute news slot just before 8pm the only fresh programme on offer.
BBC Four’s scheduling had a similar make-up with the listing from 7pm on Saturday through to 3.20am on Sunday consisting entirely of repeats, including re-runs of the same episodes of A History of Ancient Britain and Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime both before and after midnight.
The line-up included repeats of comedies Ever Decreasing Circles and Keeping Up Appearances which were first shown nearly 40 and 30 years ago respectively.
The BBC said BBC Three had shown fresh programme content during the week, including live athletics, and described BBC Four as the corporation’s “cultural heart” with its offer including “the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s rich archive”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We offer thousands of originated hours and a broad range of distinctive content; and in an increasingly on demand world audiences value having more choice than ever before on BBC iPlayer, borne out by the fact that a record 17 million people are using it every week so far in 2022.”