BBC Director-General Mark Thompson has unveiled a series of radical ideas, including rapidly repeating popular series four times, to slash costs.

He said the cuts were required because of a freeze in the licence fee.

Included in the proposals are:

*Much of BBC2’s daytime output could be replaced with rolling news

*Some or all of the BBC’s ‘overnight’ programming could be scrapped, meaning no programmes after 10.35pm, except scheduled current affairs programmes such as Newsnight

*‘Fewer, bigger and better’ current affairs shows would be commissioned. Foreign imports would be cut back

*Output of local radio and regional TV programmes would be reduced.

The Daily Mail reports that Thompson said, in answer to a question about the BBC making less TV: “That lies behind quite a lot of this. In other words, is it possible to make fewer hours of television, to make them to a higher quality and to play them out in ways where, actually, the public get a sense of more value from it than less?

“Is there a case for showing our best programmes more often in their premiere week?

“The idea that a BBC1 drama like South Riding, which is shown on BBC1 on a Sunday night, might be shown on BBC2 the following Wednesday and perhaps gets a couple of airings on BBC3 or BBC4… that doesn’t seem unreasonable.”

Plans to cut spending on shows between 10.35pm and 6am means that screens going blank late at night was a ‘theoretical possibility’, he said.

Thompson said the Beeb was looking to see if there was a case for investing less in off-peak programming, but blank screens were only one option. “There are all sorts of things you could do if you wanted to. Is there a way of filling this part of the schedule for less money?”