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28/07/2005

Bectu concerned that BBC is 'selling family silver'

Bectu says that "unions remain concerned about the long-term impact on the BBC of 'selling the family silver' as officials have dubbed the process of privatisation which began with the sale of the BBC's transmitter network eight years ago.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport recently approved the sale of BBC Broadcast Limited (BBC Broadcast), clearing the way for the sale of the BBC subsidiary to Creative Broadcast Services Limited (CBS), owned by the Macquarie Capital Alliance Group and Macquarie Bank Limited.
Despite representations from Bectu directly to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, the sale of BBC Broadcast was approved last week.
The successful bidder, Macquarie Bank Ltd, is expected to take over the contract on 31 July 2005 at a sale price of £166 million.
However, despite the sale going ahead, Bectu point out that following "successful industrial action on 23 May, and the subsequent discussions at the ACAS, employees in BBC Broadcast have secured guarantees on pensions, job security and terms and conditions of employment."
These included a three-year promise of no changes in terms and conditions, a guarantee that there would be no compulsory redundancies for at least one year, and the right to join a final salary pension scheme that Bectu said was "broadly comparable" to the BBC's own.
A recent consultative ballot of Bectu members voted overwhelmingly to accept the guarantees negotiated at ACAS but revealed a "large majority" opposed to the sale of BBC Broadcast.
One of Europe's top distribution and promotion of multimedia content providers, BBC Broadcast offers a comprehensive range of services to playout, publish, promote and provide media access for content across all media, from television to mobile phones.
The sale follows on from an internal review of the Corporation's commercial businesses. The review team concluded that, while the services provided by BBC Broadcast are vital to the BBC, they did not necessarily need to remain under BBC ownership.
The BBC maintains that its commitment to a long-term partnership with CBS will mean that the BBC can continue the strong relationship it has built up with BBC Broadcast.
(SP)
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