BBC News to take biggest hit in job cuts

BBC News is expected to be hardest hit by the proposed staff cuts due to be announced tomorrow.

The news division of the BBC is expected to experience cuts of up to 20 per cent compared with 12 per cent across all other divisions of the corporation.

Radio news will be especially hard hit. Staff are expecting to lose 50 per cent of the workforce, sources say.

Of the 1,800 jobs expected to go, 600 are likely to be in news with an additional 600 in factual and learning – which includes current affairs like Timewatch and Panorama. An additional 80 jobs are to go in the sports division.

BBC director general Mark Thompson has indicated that a further 1,000 jobs will be created under new proposals which include newsroom integration across radio, television and online. The six year plan will include proposals to retrain axed staff in multimedia roles.

Thompson is meeting with the BBC Trust today to discuss his proposed plans. The Trust is expected to green light the proposals which also include the sale of Television Centre, Wood Lane as part of an effort to fill the £2 billion funding gap at the corporation.

Thompson is expected to meet the unions tomorrow morning before briefing BBC staff on the cuts at 10am.

The NUJ has claimed that letters asking for voluntary redundancies at the BBC are being readied to be sent out this Friday.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said the letters would ‘make a mockery’of any BBC proposals for consultation. Strike action is now looking inevitable in the run-up to Christmas.

Dear said the deepest cuts in BBC news would strike at the corporation’s core. ‘The very thing that gives the BBC the justification for its license fee and that the public values about the BBC – quality news and current affairs – is being threatened with the most severe cuts which could undermine the whole future of the BBC.”

Sources within the BBC have said that roles like assistant editors, which are not regarded as “frontline journalists” are most at threat of redundancy as part of the cuts.

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