Newsnight, Radio 4, Radio 1, 1Xtra, News Channel all affected by job losses
140 jobs are to go at the BBC – the eighth consecutive year of cuts under the leadership of Mark Thompson, jeopardising the BBC’s position as a premier broadcaster.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Mark Thompson’s shabby, behind-closed doors deal with the government is the direct cause of these job cuts. His decision to agree to freeze the licence fee until 2017 means that the corporation faces these cuts as well as taking on an extra £340 million in new financial responsibilities, such as the World Service and the roll out of fast broadband. The top quality journalism we expect from the BBC is under severe threat. There will be fewer original news packages and more repeats.
“The NUJ is calling on Thompson’s successor to revisit this deal. Why should the BBC be making cuts to its vital news service to fund £150 million a year for broadband roll out and a further £25m investment in a new local TV service that nobody wants? Licence payers are now also expected to fund the World Service, Welsh service S4C and BBC Monitoring. When times are tough, the money should be used to protect creative content and quality news journalism.”
The NUJ has analysed research which suggests that users of BBC services would much rather pay more to maintain or indeed expand the current level of provision, than save a few pence per week and see those services being downgraded.
This is the first round of cuts in BBC news as part of the so-called Delivering Quality First programme. More news jobs cuts are expected as the five-year plan is rolled out. DQF aims to cut 2,000 jobs overall across the corporation. This represents a 20 per cent cut over five years, in addition to the 7,000 jobs already lost at the BBC since 2004. News has to make cuts of nearly £70m by 2016/17. The savings planned for the second and third years of DQF, together with further detail of the effect on Local Radio, Regional Current Affairs and the Asian Network, will be published later.
The plans include:
· Three Newsnight reporters, three Radio 4 news reporters and 17 posts across Radio 1 and 1Xtra news services are to go.
· 28 posts go in the Newsroom, including nine studio staff. The News Channel will lose a presenter, the Radio Newsroom two Senior Broadcast Journalists, with six posts to go in online areas.
· Editions are being cut from Radio 4’s Law in Action, and The Report, while Beyond Westminster and Taking a Stand will come to an end.
· The axing of 31 posts in national TV current affairs has already been announced and as a result there will be no current affairs programmes on BBC 4. There will be a cut of about nine hours per year of ad hoc current affairs series on BBC2. Despite promises of new money for Panorama in the future, there is no guarantee that it will be inflation-proofed.
· The BBC plans to halve its spending on party conferences and dramatically reduce programme presentation from them. Six jobs will go at Millbank, including four posts in Live Political Programmes.
· The Asian Network which is under threat will learn its fate at a later date.
· International news coverage will be affected with a number of sponsored reporter posts around the world to be closed. Some will be replaced with locally recruited staff on local terms and conditions – much worse than existing overseas terms. A number of bureaus face closure.
The BBC Trust’s interim report on DQF, which largely rubber-stamped the proposals, asked the BBC to scale back plans to make local radio stations share afternoon shows, to review plans to cut Radio 5 Live’s weekly current affairs programme. It also asked for a rethink on the plans to merge the BBC’s local current affairs programme Inside Out, which faced cuts of 40 per cent, into super regions.
The NUJ is also concerned at the proposal to significantly increase funding for some core BBC news services via revenue from its commercial channel BBC World.
NUJ broadcasting organiser Sue Harris said: “This is the first announcement of more cuts to come. This will have a serious impact on the quality of the service and will leave those left to struggle to fill in for lost posts. In his leaving letter, Mark Thompson had the nerve to say that ‘the BBC I will be leaving is so much stronger than the BBC I inherited back in 2004’. I beg to differ and we will be hoping to re-open talks with his successor to save the corporation from his potentially devastating legacy.”
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