First it was the automakers themselves, then automotive parts manufacturers, then the auto financing industry. Now even the automotive entertainment industry is taking a financial hit, with the BBC announcing budget cuts to the eternally-popular Top Gear series.
Does this mean that we won?t be seeing as many supercar vs man/plane/boat/train/blimp races in 2009? Will Clarkson, May and Hammond be reduced to destroying slightly smaller caravans? Executive producer Andy Wilman is resigned to the fact that the show will need to stretch its dollars further, but he wrote on the Top Gear blog that viewers will likely notice a difference in quality in the next series.
"Our problem, though, is that there is no fat to trim off the show, in that we waste almost nothing behind the scenes and the old cliche of every penny goes on screen is actually true," said Mr. Wilman.
"So in 2009 the budget cut has to affect what you watch."
Given Top Gear's penchant for outrageously over-the-top stunts and challenges (road trip to the North Pole, anyone?) it's perhaps unsurprising that the BBC has started to tighten the purse strings. The African road trip, the Vietnam road trip and the two most recent US specials would have cost big dollars to stage and shoot, so don't expect too many epic adventures for 2009.
Precise details on just how much money has been cut from TG's account have not been revealed, but the BBC believes that Top Gear will still be able to deliver the same quality and high production standards that we've come to expect from the show. We'll be the judge of that.