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BBC accused of bowing to political pressure

26 February 2010

Today's leak in The Times which states that the BBC is planning major cuts to services has given rise to the claim that the BBC is bowing to pressure from politicians and competitors.

BECTU reacted robustly today to the prospect of large-scale cuts at the BBC details of which were leaked to The Times.

Let there be no misunderstanding, BECTU will be opposing the closure of the services identified as at risk

Commenting on the developments, Gerry Morrissey, general secretary, said:

“First and foremost we are very disappointed that BBC staff should hear about such a serious set of proposals via a leak to a national newspaper. This will have caused avoidable upset to staff whose departments are affected by the proposals.” 

“Secondly, when you consider the available information, it is obvious that the BBC is being bounced by its competitors and by the political climate ahead of the upcoming general election.”

“Let there be no misunderstanding, BECTU will be opposing the closure of the services identified as at risk. These proposals are unnecessary and it is not acceptable to us for the BBC to be offering up services and jobs as some kind of sacrifice ahead of the general election.”

In a statement today the BBC confirmed that it will present the outcome of its strategic review to the BBC Trust next month; the Trust is then expected to open a period of audience consultation ahead of a final set of proposals expected later this year.

According to The Times, the Asian Network faces closure along with 6 Music, BBC Switch and BBC Blast! Cuts of 25 per cent in BBC online are also being considered. BBC online employs 1600 people.

The sale of BBC Worldwide magazines, which includes the Radio Times, is also among the proposals according to the leaked documents.

Gerry Morrissey and Jeremy Dear are due to meet Mark Thompson, director general, on 3 March, ahead of a meeting of the National Joint Council (NJC) on 11 March. (The NJC brings together senior BBC management and senior representatives from the recognised unions, BECTU, the NUJ and Unite.)

Amended 26 February 21.30 hours.

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