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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 December, 2004, 14:16 GMT
BBC outsiders pleased with cuts
Sir Christopher Bland
Sir Christopher Bland was keen for programmes to get a boost
Ex-BBC boss Sir Christopher Bland is among many who have welcomed plans to cut costs and boost programming at the corporation.

Director general Mark Thompson said the BBC would save 320m a year, cut 3,000 jobs and move some staff to Manchester.

"I welcome commitment to shifting into the regions and moving significant programme strands up there," Sir Christopher said.

He concluded that the licence fee was "broadly" the best way to fund the BBC.

The BBC aims to meet the savings target within three years, with the money being redirected into programme-making.

Sir Christopher, who was BBC chairman between 1996 and 2001, told BBC Two's Daily Politics: "If money is being redirected into programmes then it's a good thing.

"It's important to reduce the number of repeats and increase the variety of quality programming."

He said that had Mr Thompson's predecessor, Greg Dyke, still been in his job, he would also have made cuts at this time.

But he added it was "notable" that Mr Thompson did not "blame" Mr Dyke for having to make financial changes.

Thompson said Dyke would approve of these changes and I think he's right
Sir Christopher Bland
Sir Christopher added that the pace of change in the media was greater, and that "in a world in which ITV's public service obligations are reduced, the BBC has become more important".

Former BBC correspondent Kate Adie told the ITV News Channel the cutbacks would help reverse years of "terrible mismanagement" at the BBC.

She spoke of a worldwide pressure to "produce profits", saying in the BBC's case it "at least has to cut the mustard politically alongside those other organisations".

It's not that long since Mark Thompson was talking about a BBC swimming in a Jacuzzi of cash - he might regret that one now
Sir Christopher Bland
Adie, who left her post as BBC chief news correspondent last year, warned that the cuts could go too far.

She said that the BBC being "bloated" had resulted in some great programmes, and that people had "time to be nurtured and talent flowered".

She added that US broadcasters had cut back so much that it resulted in a "thinning out of information and a stretching of sources".

The BBC has always been called bloated - but that does have some advantages at times
Kate Adie
TV presenter and media pundit Anthony Wilson, was pleased with the plans to move jobs to Manchester, saying it was "a great day for Britain".

Mr Wilson, founder of Factory Records and The Hacienda Club in Manchester, is a leading supporter of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's plans for regional devolution.

Manchester City Council said the move would generate about 750m for the regional economy, with the city housing the largest broadcasting centre outside the capital.

Conservative media spokesman John Whittingdale said: "Today's announcement by the BBC is both welcome and long overdue.

"For too long, the BBC has been a byword for overmanning, inefficiency and waste."

Liberal Democrat media spokesman Don Foster described Mr Thompson's announcement as "a brutally honest manifesto for a 21st-Century BBC".

"Staff whose posts will go should be given help and retraining for the new jobs that the promised new services and programming will create," he said.

"For the BBC to justify the current licence fee level it has to offer viewers fewer repeats and reality shows and more high-quality programming, with a firmer commitment to the regions and localities."


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