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18/10/2007

Controversal Plans To Axe Jobs At BBC Announced

The BBC is to cut 2,500 jobs as part of a radical reform to recoup a deficit of £2 billion.
The BBC Trust has approved the six-year plan to deliver a ‘smaller but fitter’ organisation.
The plan, 'Delivering Creative Future', has three propositions: a focus on quality; a digital step change; and a smaller BBC.
The main areas to be affected by the job cuts are news operations and factual programming, the department that makes the landmark series ‘Planet Earth’ and popular Sunday primetime viewing ‘Top Gear’.
The iconic Television Centre in Shepherds Bush is also to be sold off in the bid to save money.
While the BBC plan to create around 700 jobs, the net loss of jobs will be 1,800, which is still too many for angry staff.
BBC Director General told staff: “I don’t want to minimise the human consequences of some of the decisions we have reached. But this is not just a story about cuts. It’s about building our future and grasping some amazing opportunities.
“I’ve devoted almost my whole working life to the BBC, much of that not as a suit but as a rank-and-file programme-maker. I love the BBC and what it stands for. I care too much to see it drift steadily into irrelevance.”
Over the next six years, the BBC will focus on enhancing quality output in journalism, drama, knowledge and comedy programming.
Efficiency savings and financial reprioritisation decisions approved by the Trust include meeting demanding efficiency targets of 3% per year for the period, making 10% less originated programming in television by 2012/13 and cutting digital channel BBC Three’s budget by £10 million.
Unions have already threatened industrial action over the proposals. Bectu General Secretary Gerry Morrissey said strike action was “100% guaranteed” if redundancy went out without consultation.
“We accept there have to be savings made but they are making a mistake by concentrating on their core output such as news and factual programmes.”
Bectu Assistant General Secretary Luke Crawley said: "The BBC must honour its agreements with the joint unions or face the fact of an immediate industrial action ballot. It is unacceptable to trawl for volunteers without agreeing a national framework covering the treatment of staff facing redundancy."
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear added: "We have sought reassurances from the BBC that they will honour their agreements with staff and agree to meaningful negotiations over their plans. They have refused to give those reassurances and are pressing ahead with plans to axe jobs and make cuts which we believe will undermine quality programming across the BBC."
Under the cuts plan announced today, roughly £700 million will be saved over the next six years though a combination of a reduced wage bill and a £100 million annual cut in TV programme-making.
The proposed cuts will amount to around 12% of the BBC’s total workforce but some departments could be facing reductions of 20%.
The BBC expects to close an estimated 2,500 positions between now and 2012/2013.
(DS)
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