Television

BBC to save ?221m a year in next round of restructuring in content and output areas

MUMBAI: BBC DG Mark Thompson has announced savings of ?221m a year in the organisation's content and output areas by 2008. This will be reinvested back into programmes.     

The figures include the closure of 2,050 posts and represent a 13 per cent reduction in headcount in content and output areas. They follow the first round of 46 per cent headcount savings announced two weeks ago in the BBC's professional service divisions that amounted to ?139 million.

The annual costs savings by 2008 now total ?355 million - after a small contingency – which is ahead of the ?320 million target set last December. This represents an overall 19 per cent reduction in the BBC's UK public service workforce by 3,780 through redundancy, natural staff turnover and outsourcing. Thompson said, "This is all money we plan to spend on programmes and content, both to improve the services we deliver to audiences right now and to build strong BBC services in the future. All divisions are now finding ways of achieving these savings through genuine improvements rather than crude cuts."

He said that, over the coming months, there would be a lot of hard-edged activity across the BBC to make the changes real. This would include revisiting the BBC's technology strategy, simpler processes, more prioritisation and rewarding people for excellent leadership. Acknowledging that there were risks in undertaking change on such a large scale Thompson said, "We are going through the toughest period any of us can remember. It's a difficult and painful process but necessary. We need to free up money to start investing in our digital future, to end our current Charter in December 2006 on budget and to show we are serious about providing value for money."

All savings will be phased over the next three years through a combination of modernising production, eradicating duplication and reducing administrative support staff. In terms of reinvestment Thompson said that a balance had to be struck between investment to boost the quality of today's services and investment in services of the future.

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