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Luulenpa, ettà tÃmà vaikuttaa aika lailla BBC:n jÃljellà oleviin keskiaaltolÃhettimiin....

BBC makes Â320m cuts
Owen Gibson and Matt Wells
Tuesday December 7, 2004
The Guardian The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, will today unveil a radical blueprint for the future of the corporation, making savage cuts designed to save Â320m and safeguard the licence fee in the digital age.

The Guardian has learned that Mr Thompson will announce plans to cut the BBC's army of support staff in half, and will promise to move its children's channels, sports department and Radio 5 Live to Manchester.

Non-programme-makers will be hardest hit, with 2,500 redundancies across finance, human resources, policy, legal, strategy, marketing, PR and related back-office functions. Over the next three years, up to 6,000 jobs could go.

Mr Thompson will this morning tell staff that the BBC is entering a new phase, during which it must cut in-house costs by around Â320m and be more collaborative in its dealings with independent producers and commercial rivals.

Last night he told a "subdued" meeting of 300 senior managers that the swingeing cuts were vital if the corporation is to secure a favourable licence fee settlement in 2006, when its royal charter is up for renewal. During the meeting, he told executives that Â150m worth of cuts had already been identified to bring the BBC's overdraft down to zero.

But he argued that further savings would have to be made in the next three years if the BBC was to prove to the government that it deserved a 10-year deal to guarantee annual above-inflation rises in the licence fee.

Programming departments will not be immune from the cuts, with budget reductions averaging 15% across the board.

BBC Factual and Learning, the department responsible for hits such as the Blue Planet and Walking With Dinosaurs, will be among the hardest hit, with 400 job losses. News and current affairs will also be forced to make cuts, but not until March.

Today, Mr Thompson will also unveil a new programme strategy for the BBC, promising to abandon makeover and reality shows in favour of news, comedy, family entertainment and drama.

Mr Thompson, who instigated a series of internal reviews on his appointment in May, will promise to redirect hundreds of millions of pounds to boost key current affairs programmes such as Newsnight and Panorama.

He is expected to announce plans to sell some of the corporation's commercial interests, and will demand that its commercial division doubles its profits to Â200m.

Staff face an agonising wait over Christmas and many, including senior managers, will find it hard to accept such cuts are necessary. There is a school of thought that Mr Thompson is going too far in his efforts to convince the government the corporation is slimming down to justify an above-inflation licence fee settlement.

But Mr Thompson, who argued as chief executive of Channel 4 that the BBC was wallowing in a "jacuzzi of cash", believes the corporation has become too large and cannot justify an increase in cash if it does not cut costs first.

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