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Friday, February 20, 1998 Published at 21:50 GMT


BBC Resources hived off

BBC camera crews will be for hire

The BBC is creating a commercial subsidiary company with responsibility for the corporation's studios, camera crews and outside broadcast vehicles.

About 4,500 staff will be transferred to the new company to be called BBC Resources Limited (BRL).

[ image: Gerry Morrissey: the first step to a sell-off]
Gerry Morrissey: the first step to a sell-off
The corporation says its resources division - which has shed more than 4,000 jobs in the last five years - can only survive if it can compete for work from producers outside the BBC.

The Culture Secretary Chris Smith says he will approve the BBC's plans providing the corporation's ultimate intention is not to privatise BRL. The BBC says it can give that guarantee.

However, some staff are sceptical and are voicing opposition. Gerry Morrissey, from the technicians' union BECTU said: "We believe it is the first step to the break-up of the BBC and certainly the first step to ensuring that Resources Limited, as it will be called, is floated."

BRL will be set up as a limited company, wholly owned by the BBC, and so will not have access to licence fee money.

Barry Cox: "We don't object in principle." (14")
The BBC hopes that by doing this it will silence accusations that BRL has an unfair competitive advantage.

But rival broadcasters say the BBC is abusing its unique position as it increases its commerical activities.

Barry Cox, the Director of the ITV Association, which represents independent television companies, said: "We do expect them to be seen to be trading fairly and that someone outside the governors is monitoring that fair trading."

Although most resources staff will transfer to BRL some - including those in BBC News - will remain as direct employees of the corporation.

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