BBC staff tear into 'Rottweiler' Thompson

BBC
director general Mark Thompson was condemned as a “Rottweiler” as the
Annual Delegate Meeting unanimously passed a motion deploring his
proposed staff cuts.

Last month Thompson announced plans to cut
2,050 staff in programmemaking departments – more than 400 of which are
to be journalists.

The move came on top of 1,700 job cuts already announced, meaning the BBC stands to lose 20 per cent of its workforce.

The
motion described Thompson’s move as “the single largest attack on jobs
and programme-making capacity at the BBC in the history of the
organisation, threatening the core programmes and services which define
the role of the BBC”.

According to the motion, moved by BBC
London, one union member has already been mugged because freelance
entitlement to late taxis has been withdrawn.

It called on all
NUJ members to “join the campaign to explain the devastating impact of
these cuts to the licence fee payer, the press, Parliament and the
Government”.

John Davidson, from BBC London, condemned his boss Thompson as a “Rottweiler” who will do “irreparable damage” to the BBC.

He
said: “Mark Thompson is destroying personnel and support departments in
the wake of Hutton, meaning journalists will now have to spend their
time fixing rotas.”

He added that the cuts will mean fewer correspondents and an end to separate news bulletins for the different BBC networks.

He said News 24 is already “struggling”

and will be badly hit by the loss of 10 jobs in London and 20 in nations and regions.

“As
the election approaches, point out to local candidates that their local
radio station will not have as much time to interview them,” Davidson
said.

“Five senior producers and five correspondents from Social Affairs are to be axed. That’s the bread and butter of our democracy.

“The politicians are now our best hope – we must all go out now and turn this into a national debate.”

Pierre
Vickery from BBC World Service said: “This is a fight to thedeath; if
we are not prepared to fight this one we might as well close down all
the union offices in the BBC.”

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said the cuts will “devalue the BBC, short-change audiences and increase stress”.

He
said: “The proposals at News 24 are not to cut management jobs, but to
cut eight broadcast journalists; in the North East, frontline
journalists and production jobs are to go; world affairs correspondents
in Dakar and NorthAmerica are to go.

“This is self-abuse on an unparalleled scale in the history of the BBC.”

Holding
aloft a copy of this magazine, Dear said: “Last week Press Gazette
asked are we in for a summer of journalists standing on picket lines?

Unless on Tuesday the BBC backs down, the answer is yes.”

A
motion was passed expressing “alarm” at the prospect of further job
losses at ITV following February’s Ofcom report which reduced the
station’scommitment to regional programming.

The motion said:
“ITV is cutting its commitments to local news in key regions and is
closing studios and losing hundreds of jobs in English regions.”

John Mitchell, from Nottingham branch, said: “ITV has been shafted and now we know the BBC is next in line.

ITV
was shafted despite a long and well-organised campaign not just among
people who worked in the business, but we had overwhelming support from
the public.

“Ofcom has rolled over and allowed its bloated tummy to be tickled by the fat cats at ITV Plc.

“At
Meridian and Central, bulletins are transmitted 50 miles outside the
studios they serve. Our reporters and presenters are wasting countless
hours, countless time and countless money by driving up and down
motorways reporting on stories, then going back to studios to present
the news.

“All so that one fat, greedy bastard [ITV chief executive Charles Allen] can justify his £8.7m pay package.”

REPORTS BY DOMINIC PONSFORD; PICTURES BY PHIL ADAMS

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