BBC to axe another 2,000 jobs

The BBC is to axe 2,050 jobs in a second wave of redundancies aimed at saving hundreds of millions of pounds a year, the corporation announced today.

The cuts will include 420 in news, 66 in sport, 150 in drama, entertainment and children's programmes, 735 in the regions, 58 in new media and 424 in factual and learning.

The cuts, announced in a special message to staff by director general Mark Thompson, follow a previous announcement of 1,730 job losses in professional services.

The BBC said a total of 3,780 jobs would be lost, a reduction of 19% in its UK workforce.

The cuts will lead to annual savings of £355 million by 2008, £35 million more than a target set last December.

Mr Thompson told BBC staff: "This is all money we plan to spend on programmes and content, both to improve the services we deliver to audiences right now and to build strong BBC services in the future.

"We want all divisions to figure out ways of achieving these savings through genuine improvements rather than crude cuts.

"We are going through the toughest period any of us can remember. It's a difficult and painful process but necessary.

"We need to free up money to start investing in our digital future, to end our current Charter in December 2006 on budget and to show we are serious about providing value for money."

The cuts will be phased in over the next three years through a combination of "modernising production, eradicating duplication and reducing administrative staff", said the corporation.

The savings meant that by the financial year 2008/9 there will be £355 million of fresh investment each year, said Mr Thompson.

Investment priorities will include £47 million by 2008 in television drama on BBC One and Two, £45 million for news, £52 million for the regions and £14 million for children's programmes.

The savings announced today will include £34 million in news, £9.9 million in sport, £22.9 million in factual and learning, £45 million in drama, entertainment and children's programmes, £7.7 million in new media and £37 million in television.

Mr Thompson said there were risks in undertaking change on such a large scale, adding there would be a lot of "hard edged activity" in the coming months.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, accused Mr Thompson of "ripping the heart" out of BBC programme making.

"Throughout this whole turbulent period he has still failed to answer the single most important question – how can the BBC maintain the quality and standards it is justifiably praised for whilst axing one in five staff.

"How can hard working staff maintain quality whilst trying to do not only their own job but that of thousands of their colleagues too. The inevitable result is that staff will face burn out whilst standards and quality will be damaged.

"That will have extremely serious consequences for BBC journalism and programme making and the BBC's ability to meet its charter commitments.

"BBC staff deserve better than to be used as political pawns in what many see as an unsavoury and grubby deal between Government and senior BBC management. How can staff have confidence in those who think that what is best for the BBC is to cut 20% of its staff, reduce programme budgets and hand over parts of its infrastructure to the private sector."

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