17 May 2016
Last week’s publication of the BBC White Paper was spun to suggest that the BBC had ‘got away lightly’ and that Charter Review was all about securing the organisation. This week, however, a new round of cuts has begun with 40 jobs put at risk today after an Online Creative Review resolved to save £15million.
BECTU issued the following media release on Tuesday 17 May 2016:
BBC: Last week the spin of ‘certainty’, this week the cuts
Last week’s publication of the BBC White Paper was spun to suggest that the BBC had ‘got away lightly’ and that Charter Review was all about securing the organisation.
This week, however, a new round of cuts has begun with 40 jobs put at risk today after an Online Creative Review resolved to save £15million. The BBC says the savings will need to be found by April 2018. Whilst redundancy consultations have yet to start, BECTU is restating its opposition to compulsory redundancies and expects the BBC to do everything in its power to achieve any cuts by voluntary means.
Equally worrying are the signs that the BBC’s supposed new investment in online appears to be being reversed. Earlier this year BBC Three was closed and moved online. These proposals to save £15million would be achieved with the closure of the iWonder website (launched just last year with much fanfare), the Newsbeat website, the Newsbeat App, News Magazine Online, the Travel and Food sections of the BBC website and Local News’ Index Pages. Perhaps critically, development spending on BBC iplayer, a hugely successful BBC service, will no longer be protected from cuts from April 2018.
BECTU asks, if all these services are to be closed to save £15million, what level of cuts is going to be necessary to meet the £750m annual saving which will be needed by 2020 to meet the cost of free licence fees for the over-75s? This additional financial burden, currently met from the welfare budget, was foisted on the BBC in July 2015 as part of the licence fee settlement. BECTU, together with the other entertainment unions, has been challenging the cuts through its BBC Love It Or Lose It campaign.
BECTU is aware that work in several online teams has been at a standstill since 1 April as managers wait for budgets to be approved. Fixed term contract staff are engaged subject to one month extensions. BECTU is urgently seeking clarity on the treatment of these particular staff.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Gerry Morrissey, BECTU general secretary, said:
“What we’re seeing is the BBC contradicting itself. One minute it’s investing in online, the next cuts are being proposed. Sadly we only expect more of this to come as the BBC faces up to the cuts imposed by government. What’s clear to us is that if the BBC audience values a service, it has to protest and seek assurances on no cuts.”
The Federation of Entertainment Unions’ Love It Or Lose It campaign is at www.facebook.com/loveitorloseit
For more information contact the BECTU media office on 020 7346 0900.