07/12/2004

Around 3,000 jobs to go at BBC

Around 3,000 jobs look set to go at the BBC after Director-General Mark Thompson outlined a new vision for transforming the company into a "simpler, more agile and creative digital broadcaster".

The plan could see an initial 2,900 jobs go and extra resources released through new ways of working, productivity gains, new technology, efficiencies and overhead cuts.

The target is an annual £320 million savings within three years, all of which will be redirected into programme making.

Mr Thompson emphasised that the debate around renewing the BBC's Charter also meant that the BBC had to act now to seize the argument, answer its critics and show how it could release resources to invest in ambitions outlined in its Charter Review manifesto and the developing programme strategy.

"My vision for the future of the BBC has three parts: a bold new programme and content strategy based above all around the idea of excellence; a transformation of the BBC into a state-of-the art digital broadcaster; and an irreversible shift in the culture of the BBC towards simplicity, opportunity and creativity," Mr Thompson said.

"There is an amazing creative prize for the BBC and our audiences – but it's a prize that comes at a price. To achieve all this, the BBC must undergo nothing short of transformation."

Mr Thompson also outlined how a considerable proportion of the BBC's output will be moved north to Manchester, including CBBC and CBeebies; BBC Sport; Five Live and Five Live Sports Extra; New Media and R&D; And Formal Learning, including the Digital Curriculum. Around 1800 positions are expected to be relocated within five years.

Mr Thompson continued: "Out of London is a much bigger idea than creating a state of the art creative and broadcast centre in Manchester.

"It ties in with all the themes in Building Public Value about re-connecting and embedding the BBC in communities all over the UK.

"It will change our tone of voice as an organisation. It will open doors to new talent and new perspectives. It will win back trust in parts of the country which can currently feel quite alienated from the BBC."

Mr Thompson moved to reassure staff who may be affected by job losses, outsourcing or job moves out of London by emphasising: "The BBC has a reputation as a fair and considerate employer.

"We will not be walking away from our responsibilities or the redundancy terms we offer. We will not abandon the annual pay round or walk away from the BBC's defined benefits pension scheme."

He said people would have plenty of time to consider moves from a personal perspective and that comprehensive relocation assistance would be available for those people whose work moves out of London.

New ownership options for the BBC's commercial subsidiaries BBC Broadcast and BBC Resources are also to be considered, with bids for BBC Broadcast to be invited in the New Year.

Any change in the control of BBC Resources or move to privatise BBC Broadcast whole or in part would require the approval of the Secretary of State, however.

(GB/MB)

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