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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
BBC cuts back programmes and jobs
BBC director general Mark Thompson
Mr Thompson said the plans involved 'difficult choices'

BBC TV audiences can expect more repeats and fewer original programmes, under plans to reduce the size of the corporation revealed on Thursday.

Up to 1,800 staff will also be made redundant - primarily in news, BBC programme-making and regional centres.

The BBC will also sell-off its flagship Television Centre, under the plans to make up a 2bn budget shortfall.

But unions are threatening strike action if the corporation calls on staff to volunteer for redundancy.

Director General Mark Thompson said his plan would deliver "a smaller, but fitter, BBC" in the digital age.

The six-year scheme, called Delivering Creative Future, was prompted by a smaller than expected licence fee settlement from the government.

Every part of the BBC will be required to make efficiency savings.

The main changes include:

  • Closing 2,500 job posts over the next six years.

  • Creating about 1,000 new jobs, many of which will be filled internally. In total, the BBC estimates there will be 1,800 redundancies from current staff.

  • Making 10% fewer original TV programmes by 2012/13, focusing on fewer, high quality shows.

  • Establishing an integrated newsroom - merging TV, radio, and online.

  • Reducing the size of the BBC's property portfolio by selling BBC Television Centre by 2012/13.

  • Scrapping proposals for new activities, including plans for four new local radio stations.

    'Minimum' repeats

    Across TV as a whole, the BBC plans to commission 10% fewer hours, saving 100m every year.

    Despite press speculation, digital channels BBC Three and BBC Four will remain.

    HAVE YOUR SAY
    More repeats are fine so long as you show programmes people want to see again
    Paul Tapner, Poole, UK

    Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said there would be an emphasis on quality.

    Repeats during the BBC One peak viewing times would continue to be kept at a minimum.

    Programmes like Panorama, Imagine, Horizon and Who Do You Think You Are? are "safe", but there will be less light factual "middle-ground" programming, she said.

    Ms Bennett also said there would be a "significant investment" in High-Definition TV, which launches next year, and a shift to on-demand and interactive programming.

    She said plans to make programmes available through the iPlayer and other interactive platforms were "meeting the needs of our audience".

    BBC employees graph

    Despite 660 redundancies in the BBC's programme-making department - BBC Vision - she said the corporation would continue to provide a wide range of original drama, such as Spooks, as well as comedy, popular entertainment, and "world class" factual output.

    Up to 370 people will be made redundant in BBC News by 2012, but the process is expected to be pushed through "as fast as possible".

    'Powerful vision'

    Mr Thompson told staff: "BBC News is, and will remain, the cornerstone of the whole organisation. The proportion of content spend that goes to News will go up not down over the coming years."

    Plans for BBC journalism include an enhanced on-demand news, sport and local information for the digital age.

    There are also plans to build content for younger audiences, including a multi-media Radio 1 Newsbeat.

    Nothing said today reassures us that the BBC is committed to meaningful negotiations over the change
    Jeremy Dear, NUJ

    Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC News 24 he had concerns at the nature of the job cuts.

    He said: "You have to be very careful that if you are streamlining newsrooms it does not affect quality."

    Unions say they will write to the BBC requesting that they meet for meaningful negotiations on the announced "savage" cuts.

    The letter will include a demand for the redundancy process to be halted immediately, with a deadline of midday on Friday.

    The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the broadcasting workers union Bectu said 3,000 letters had already been prepared, bearing Friday's date, asking for volunteers.

    Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of Bectu, said he "very confident" his members would support industrial action.

    NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "Nothing said today reassures us that the BBC is committed to meaningful negotiations over the change.

    "Unless the BBC reconsiders its position, strike action looks inevitable."

    BBC NET REDUNDANCIES BY DEPARTMENT

      Responsible for Redundancies
    Vision Factual, children's and entertainment television 640 - 660
    Nations and Regions Regional news and programmes 510 - 550
    News News for TV, radio and new media 355 - 370
    Future Media & Technology Online, mobile, interactive, archives 120 - 130
    Audio and Music Music radio, audio on other platforms 65 - 75
    Sport Sport on TV, radio and new media Up to 20
    Professional Services Marketing, legal, finance etc Up to 75



    VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
    Director General Mark Thompson on the future of the BBC



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