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BBC to Lay Off 12% of Workforce

Posted October. 19, 2007 03:45,   


It was reported on Thursday that the BBC Trust, the supervisory institution of the United Kingdom’s public broadcaster BBC, unanimously approved a six-year restructuring plan centering on reducing its workforce by 1,800 and selling its Television Center in London on Wednesday.

According to a restructuring plan reported to the BBC Trust by BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, the BBC will lay off approximately 12 percent of its total workforce, or some 2,800 workers, by the year 2012. Given the estimated 1,000 new BBC hires over the same period, the net number of employees who will be heading home will be around 1,800.

News and documentary divisions are expected to be hard hit by the cutbacks. The BBC has decided to consolidate its TV, radio and Internet newsrooms and trim the combined number of producers, reporters and engineers in the divisions by 500. In addition, the BBC plans to sell its Television Center in west London where most of its television shows and news programs are produced, and cut its budget by three percent every year through more efficient management.

The BBC decided to go ahead with restructuring because of a two-billion-pound (equivalent to 3.7450 trillion won) hole in their budget for the next six years as the U.K. government, which has urged public institutions such as the BBC to streamline, did not raise its television license fee in line with the real inflation rate this January.

Massive restructuring is also inevitable if the BBC is to finance the costly conversion to digital broadcasting, considering the goal of U.K. government to end analog broadcasting by 2012. The BBC’s latest extensive restructuring plan, following on the heels of its massive layoff of 3,780 employees in 2005, has fueled a backlash from the BBC labor union and the National Union of Journalists, which are planning to hold a vote on whether to go a strike or not.

Among BBC union members, 84 of them argued in a statement issued on the Internet edition of the daily newspaper The Guardian, “We are concerned that the quality of our programs will be severely undermined due to the destructive restructuring.”

However, the BBC Trust’s appointed chairman Michael Lyons said, “Our viewers who pay TV license fees mattered the most in reviewing the restructuring plan. All BBC employees must keep in mind that the BBC relies on stable and exclusive funding from viewers who must pay the fee.”