BBC lobbied again

BBC unions have again lobbied BBC Governors about plans to turn BBC Resources into a commercial company.

The lobby on 20 February follows a similar exercise at the Board of Governor's meeting last month.

The open letter to the BBC Board of Governors from BECTU, NUJ and AEEU, reproduced below, concentrates on proposals put forward by Corporation management to create BBC Resources Ltd.

Open letter to the Governors of the BBC from the Joint Unions

It seems that this may be the last opportunity for the BBC's unions to communicate with the Governors, before a final decision is made on the creation of BBC Resources Ltd. In the last few weeks we have drawn your attention to the fears that this possible development has raised amongst staff.

Apart from the concerns of staff currently in the Resources Directorate about their long-term future, there is a feeling throughout the Corporation that the establishment of a wholly-owned subsidiary could jeopardise the concept of 'one BBC', which all our members believe in and are proud to work for.

Staff in BBC Production have not been slow to predict that if BBC Resources Ltd establishes a trend whereby integral parts of the Corporation are spun off, their section could be next, putting the BBC's fundamental creative activity at arm's length from the Corporate centre.

Most staff working in Resources Directorate remain as unconvinced about its conversion into a Limited Company as they were when we first wrote to you. They have not readily accepted claims that the change will stifle complaints from the commercial sector that BBC Resources is using its public subsidy to encroach on their activities. Nor, in light of the finance raised by the sale of BBC Transmitters, have they been persuaded that capital funding is a problem for the Corporation. Despite some efforts by managers to publicise the merits of the proposal, staff are still uncertain about the long-term security of their jobs, pay, and benefits, and in many cases believe that full privatisation lies ahead.

Much may have been said by managers about the putative benefits of Limited Company status to BBC Resources, but few arguments have been made to prove the benefit accruing to the Corporation as a whole from the separation of such a large component part. Viewed objectively, will this change truly benefit the BBC in coming years?

The mood that Resources staff have detected amongst their managers is one of haste, raising the suspicion that this plan is being pushed through in advance of the forthcoming General Election in order to preclude the detailed public debate that would surely accompany such a major constitutional change in a more reflective political climate.

We sincerely hope that this is not the case, and that the Governors will not allow expediency to supercede principle and measured debate. Once again, we hope that you will be willing to take the views of staff into account during your deliberations.

21 February 1997