BBC set to cut 2,000 jobs by 2017
- 6 October 2011
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
The BBC is planning to cut 2,000 jobs and radically change programming in order to cut 20% from its budget over the next five years.
No channels will close. Some money will be reinvested in new programmes.
All new daytime programming will shift to BBC One, with BBC Two broadcasting news and repeats of peak-time shows.
Technicians' union Bectu accused the corporation's director general Mark Thompson of "destroying jobs and destroying the BBC".
Thompson unveiled details of the cuts - branded Delivering Quality First (DQF) - in an address to staff on Thursday morning.
Thompson said the changes would lead to "a smaller, radically reshaped BBC".
As well as the loss of 2,000 posts across the BBC over the next five years, another 1,000 staff will relocate from London to Salford. BBC Three will move to Salford in 2016.
BBC One, which is having its overall budget cut by 3%, will see a reduction in entertainment programmes "which have a lower impact", Thompson said.
There will be fewer chat shows and panel shows on BBC Two, and digital channels BBC Three and Four will become feeder channels for BBC One and Two respectively.
Other key points include:
- Small reduction of 3% in BBC One's budget but money to be reinvested on comedy and drama.
- Extra investment in children's channels to be protected.
- More funding for factual programming on BBC One and BBC Four.
- BBC Two's daytime schedule to feature international news and current affairs at lunchtime, with repeats of mainly factual programmes at other times.
- Radio 4's underlying programme budget to be unaffected.
- More money to "protect and improve" quality of Proms coverage.
- The BBC HD channel will close and be replaced with a single version of BBC Two in high definition.
- Red button services will also be reduced after the Olympics.
There will be a 15% reduction in the BBC's sports rights budget. This includes the decision earlier this year to share the rights for Formula One with BSkyB.
The BBC said that the decision to share F1 rights saved more cash than would have been saved by shutting one of its smaller TV channels.
In local radio, there will be more sharing of content across regions.
Original programming across the BBC's main networks will be reduced, such as comedy on Radio 2 and Radio 5 live, as well as fewer lunchtime concerts on Radio 3.
Radio drama will be reduced on Radios 3 and 4. Radio 4's comedy output is unaffected.
Separate news bulletins will end on Radio 1Xtra (outside breakfast) which will take Radio 1's news output. Radio 3 will use shorter versions of Radio 4 bulletins.
There will be reductions in medium-wave transmissions for local radio in England where coverage replicates FM. There will also be no reinvestment in long wave, which will lead to the end of Radio 4 on LW in the long term.
The BBC News Channel will focus on breaking news, with less coverage of arts, culture and science. Material from the nations and English regions will be repeated during times of lower demand.
Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, said there would be up to 800 post closures in news. That would be offset by the creation of new posts, meaning a total reduction in staff of between 550 and 650.
There are no major changes proposed for CBBC and CBeebies. After digital switchover, children's programmes will be removed from BBC One's afternoon schedule and BBC Two's morning slots.
Unions reacted angrily to news of the job cuts. Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the technicians' union Bectu, said the BBC's proposals should have been called "destroying quality first".
The National Union of Journalists added "the BBC will not be the same organisation if these cuts go ahead".
Thompson said he hoped a proportion of staff facing job losses could be "retrained and redeployed".
The proposals are the result of a nine-month staff consultation.
In January, Thompson said the BBC faced the challenge of finding 20% savings over the four years to April 2017.
This figure incorporates the 16% drop in revenue from the licence fee, and an attempt to claw back 4% of current expenditure to re-invest in new content and digital developments.
Speaking ahead of Thompson, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten explained how the trust will consult licence fee payers on the plans. The public will have until the end of the year to respond.
A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We welcome that the BBC is thinking hard about what it does and where it should focus in future.
"We are committed to an independent, strong and successful BBC that is the cornerstone of British broadcasting
In 2010's government spending review, the BBC licence fee was frozen at £145.50 until 2016-17.
That licence agreement brought with it new financial obligations, including the World Service, which is currently funded by the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
This funding comes to an end in April 2014 as the BBC World Service transfers to television licence fee funding.
Thompson concluded his address on Thursday warning that the BBC could not sustain a further reduction in licence fee funding, after a decade of cuts.
"I don't think we could do this again," he told staff.
"Another real terms cut in the licence fee would lead to a loss of services, or potentially a diminution of quality, or both."