BBC plans pounds 80m-a-year cuts in administration

THE BBC'S board of management is meeting on Monday to discuss a range of cuts designed to remove up to pounds 80m a year from the administrative overheads of the corporation.

The subject is so controversial, and the potential impact on jobs so large, that Sir Michael Checkland, Director-General of the BBC, said in Birmingham this week that no decisions will be taken until September, allowing senior managers all of August to mull over the options and lobby for their interests.

But in announcing the BBC's new 24-hour radio news service and education directorate, he said: 'The rigorous review of support costs we are conducting will reduce overheads to a minimum, and release more funds to fulfil the programme objectives I have outlined.'

The report has been drawn up following a Price Waterhouse study earlier this year which identified 365 different functions that are carried out by the BBC but which are not directly related to the basic business of making television and radio programmes - everything from running transmitters to the laborious system of processing artists' contracts.

It found that a quarter of the licence fee, pounds 330m, was absorbed by administration. This was seen as far too high. It has gone on to identify, and draw a ring fence around, the special costs of about pounds 50m year associated with the governance of the BBC: everything from running the board of governors to answering letters from the public.

Until the rest of the BBC's bureaucracy is harshly pruned back, the market-oriented system of producer choice, allowing programme-makers to shop outside the corporation for services, cannot work fairly. The BBC's own programme-making services are carrying far heavier costs than outside independent facility companies and freelance technicians, with whom they are expected to compete. A small group of top BBC managers, led by the BBC's personnel director, Margaret Salmon, have spent the summer working on the masterplan, devising budget cuts, and buildings to be sold or vacated.

This has been accompanied by a matrix, in which each administrative function is given a score on a scale of 0 to 4. Essential functions such as transmission are given a 0 score. But there are other activities, engineering research, for example, which have less direct importance, which have higher scores.

The matrix paves the way for an objective system of cost/benefit analysis, allowing the board of management to work out which are the high-cost and low-benefit activities. A typical department appears to be facing budget cuts of between 20 and 30 per cent.

Senior BBC staff report that the organisation is in the grip of a seismic upheaval: rapid changes in broadcasting, with satellite television and ITV ending the cosy staus quo, accompanied by huge and unpopular changes in working conditions and organisation inside the BBC. They also fear that debate about the future direction of the BBC - and what its future programme services should carry - is being unnecessarily stifled.

Many managers appear to be in the dark about the overall plan: several controllers of BBC Radio attending this week's Radio Academy did not know about the decision to launch the new radio news channel until Sir Michael arrived to announce it. They are also serving two masters: Sir Michael Checkland is not leaving until next February. John Birt, his successor, is not a great admirer of much of the BBC's current output.

The board of management is bracing itself for the axe. The director general-designate, Mr Birt, is expected to want to reform it by appointing managers responsible for BBC-wide functions, such as resources, rather than continuing with the current system, which encourages sectional interests to flourish.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum