Jobs warning as BBC unveils cuts plan

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The Independent Online

The BBC faced the threat of strikes today amid claims that up to 600 jobs could be axed after the corporation confirmed the closure of its digital radio station 6 Music.

Director general Mark Thompson told staff that the Asian Network radio station will also close and there will be cuts of 25% in the BBC website budget.

Confirmation of the cuts, which had already been leaked, sparked anger among staff, with warnings that hundreds of jobs could now be lost.

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the broadcasting workers' union Bectu, said up to 600 jobs could go.

"These cuts are totally unnecessary and are purely politically motivated.

"It is obvious that the BBC is being bounced by its competitors and by the political climate ahead of the upcoming general election.

"It is not acceptable for the BBC to be offering up services and jobs as some kind of sacrifice ahead of the general election."

Union leaders will meet Mr Thompson tomorrow but are already warning of industrial action to fight the cuts.

BBC 6 Music is one of the corporation's most successful digital-only stations and the closure plan has already provoked music industry protests.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: "If the BBC has to look at savings, they should tackle executive pay rather than programmes or content.

"The BBC is simply caving in to political and commercial pressure."

Mr Dear said hundreds of jobs could be affected by the cuts, warning of an industrial action ballot if there were any compulsory redundancies.