HR staff at the BBC face an uncertain future after it emerged that the corporation is planning to cut up to a quarter of its 28,000 workforce in the biggest single reorganisation in its history.
According to The Times, about 6,000 jobs are under threat from next year, although the final number of redundancies is yet to be decided.
One target already identified is BBC People, the corporation’s HR department. Senior BBC sources told The Times that they were shocked to discover that the department had nearly 1,000 staff, making it clear that it was a prime target for cost saving.
The newspaper also said that key staff will be moved out of London, more programme production contracted out and some activities partly privatised. Most of the staff expected to be transferred from the capital will relocate to Manchester, with others moving to Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast and Bristol.
The lack of firm information is angering trade union representatives. Luke Crawley, an official at broadcast union Bectu, told the Times he was expecting “thousands of redundancies”, and added: “Our members are very frustrated. Their jobs are on the line, and some could get one hell of a Christmas present.”
BBC director general, Mark Thompson, wants to make the corporation as lean as possible as it faces the debate on the renewal of its 10-year Royal Charter, which is due for renewal at the end of 2006.
By demonstrating that costs are under control, the BBC believes that it can justify the receipt of substantial public money – last year’s income from the licence fee was £2.8bn.
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