Thompson plans 6,000 job cuts as BBC staff learn fate

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The Independent Online

The BBC's director general will announce thousands of job cuts today, part of his vision for a more efficient public service broadcaster. Up to 6,000 jobs will be axed from the 28,000-strong workforce after four reviews ordered by Mark Thompson when he joined the BBC in June. A further 1,700 posts are expected to move from London to Manchester.

The BBC's director general will announce thousands of job cuts today, part of his vision for a more efficient public service broadcaster. Up to 6,000 jobs will be axed from the 28,000-strong workforce after four reviews ordered by Mark Thompson when he joined the BBC in June. A further 1,700 posts are expected to move from London to Manchester.

Staff morale has plummeted and unions say they will oppose compulsory redundancies or forced relocations and threaten strike action if their demands are not met. Redundancy notices will not be handed out immediately, and the full extent of the job losses will not become clear until the spring, but today's announcement will form the basis of a leaner regime.

Backroom staff will be the worst hit: about 35 per cent of jobs in human resources, financial, legal, publicity and marketing departments, which employ between 3,000 and 4,000 staff, are expected to be cut. Programme makers face efficiency cuts and a proposal to open an extra 25 per cent of programme-making to competition from other production companies.

Entire departments, including children's programmes, sport, Radio Five Live, new media, research and development, schools and the digital curriculum will move to Manchester as part of the biggest transfer of power to the regions in the BBC's history. The BBC is also likely to sell off or enter commercial partnerships to run its commercial divisions, which employ 4,500 staff.

Mr Thompson will address employees at 10am today, unveiling the result of the reviews and outlining his vision for the future. As the BBC faces intense scrutiny in renewal of its royal charter in 2006, the director general is keen to prove to the Government that it is spending licence fee payers' efficiently and wisely.Four reviews have looked at value for money, the future of commercial services, the way in which content is supplied and which departments should move out of London.

Mr Thompson will tell staff that journalism and high-quality programming in areas such as children's shows and comedy should be at the heart of what the BBC does. He will also signal a move from derivative and lifestyle programmes.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: "We are determined to resist any forced relocation of people out of London and we will resist any compulsory redundancies. If that means we have to ... take strike action, that will be the case."

Gerry Morrissey, the assistant general secretary of the broadcast union Bectu, said: "Morale is not as low as in the John Birt era, but there is quite a bit of apprehension."

Manchester to benefit from planned relocation

By Ian Herbert, North of England Correspondent

The relocation of hundreds of BBC staff to Manchester is likely to bring the curtain down on one of the city's enduring landmarks - the Oxford Road offices the BBC has occupied for 75 years.

The size of the old building, where Radio Five Live currently operates from a few desks, is too small for an estimated doubling of the current 700 staff. The BBC is expected to bid for regional development agency cash to help finance a new city-centre Broadcasting House.

BBC Manchester's personnel department is also planning a "big sell" to convince London staff to relocate to the North-west, which has produced 11 per cent of all new network programmes on British television this year.

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