The BBC is being destroyed by an “onslaught of a thousand cuts”, the National Union of Journalists warned after the corporation announced a fresh round of job cuts.
The BBC said last night a restructuring of its current affairs department would lead to 31 reporting, production and support posts being axed in London and Manchester.
The staff cut equates to 22 per cent of the 135 permanent employees that work in the department which produces the Panorama and This World programmes.
The BBC said the restructure was aimed at increasing flexibility and allowing programme makers to vary staff levels to manage peaks and troughs in production.
A mix of full-time staff and those working on short-term contracts would mean the numbers of people working on programmes will remain broadly the same, the corporation added.
Clive Edwards, BBC current affairs executive editor, said: “For the brilliant staff in current affairs this is going to be a very tough time and I want to emphasise that the work they have been doing has been outstanding.
“We are committed to keeping on producing the very best programmes but to do that it’s crucial we implement this restructure.
“Because rates of production fluctuate it has become uneconomic to keep the current number of staff on full-time payroll and so the restructure will change our staffing mix.
“Although this has been a very hard decision to come to I am confident that it will mean we can continue to produce programmes of the very highest quality and impact.”
This last round of job cuts, which follows announcements about the loss of hundreds of jobs at BBC Online and the World Service, was condemned by the NUJ.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said: “The proposed cuts to BBC current affairs are a further legacy of the supine approach of one of the world’s leading broadcasters to the Coalition Government.
“Slate by slate and floor by floor, an outstanding broadcasting service which took more than ninety years to build is being destroyed in an onslaught of a thousand cuts.
“The attacks on current affairs staff are further reducing the ability of the BBC to deliver on its sacred pledge to the public: to inform, educate and entertain.”
The BBC announced last month that around 650 jobs would go as part of plans to close five World Service language services in a bid to save £46m a year and that a further 360 posts would go as it cut its online budget by 25 per cent to £103m by 2013/14.