18 October 2007

On the dole: BBC Makes Radical Overhaul

BBC has announced it will cut 1,800 jobs, broadcast fewer programs and require staff to create content for television, radio and the Internet, creating a showdown with journalists and other employees.

Union leaders said a strike was inevitable if the BBC went forward with the radical overhaul, which includes major cutbacks to news and documentary divisions. BBC journalists say the cuts threaten the quality of the broadcast.

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson told staff that 2,500 jobs will be cut over the next 6 years, but that 700 new jobs will likely be created.

The job cuts represent about 8% of the corporation's 23,000 positions.

"Media is transforming. Audiences are transforming. It would be easy to say that the sheer pace of this revolution is too fast for the BBC," Thompson said.

"I believe we will look back at today in a few years time as the moment when the BBC did make some difficult choices," he said. "I don't want to minimise the human consequences of some of the decisions we have reached, but this is not just a story about cuts. It's about building our future and grasping some amazing opportunities."

The job cuts follow a series of setbacks this year at the BBC.

The head of the BBC's flagship television channel resigned this month over the editing of footage that wrongly implied Queen Elizabeth II walked out abruptly from a portrait sitting with photographer Annie Leibovitz. The BBC has also come under criticism for 11 other cases of audience deception, where contest results were faked or prerecorded while programs were presented as though they were live.

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