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Almost 100 jobs to go at BBC Monitoring

© Mark Thomas

5 July 2016

Almost 100 jobs are to go in a major downsizing of the BBC Monitoring service in Caversham, Berkshire.

Staff were told that BBC Monitoring had been set a tough savings target of £4m which had to be achieved by April 2017.

Nearly one in three posts in the editorial and related support teams will be closed, with a net loss of 98 after the creation of new posts. Monitoring’s overseas offices have had staff numbers cut by about 20 per cent; 40 per cent of  staff in the UK face dismissal.

The BBC said Monitoring would be move out of Caversham Park, its base since 1943, to central London, date to be confirmed. IT and other non-editorial teams will face cuts once the editorial operation shrinks.

BBC Monitoring surveys the world’s broadcast and print media, selecting and where necessary translating reports from 150 countries in 100 languages. Its consumers include government bodies, commercial organisations, NGOs and think tanks, other media organisations and the BBC.

Monitoring was paid for by government bodies and the BBC until 2013, when the BBC took it into the licence fee under a deal done in 2010 by then director general Mark Thompson. There had been deep funding cuts and job losses in 2006 and another bout of redundancies followed in 2011. A decade of progressive funding and staffing cuts has forced Monitoring to spread itself ever thinner. This latest contraction effectively means the end of its ability to keep a constant and global watch. The move to London will inevitably cause further atrophy, members believe.

Stuart Seaman, NUJ Father of  Chapel at BBC Monitoring said:

“This is a classic case of knowing the cost but not the value. Users have always praised our reporting on other countries through their media. But all too often, our paymasters have seen Monitoring as an easy target for savings. The world is an increasingly difficult place and we need to not only know what is happening but to make sense of it as well. Monitoring helps us to do exactly that. We should be making the most of this unique and economical resource, not cutting it to the bone.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"As the UK faces an unprecedented uncertainty following Brexit, as tensions between Russia and the West increase and so-called ISIS spreads terror around the world, the work of Monitoring is vastly more important. What a crazy time to be making such huge cuts. We will now be in consultation with the BBC and aim to minimise the damage."

Fran Unsworth, director of the BBC World Service Group, said: 

“For more than 75 years, BBC Monitoring has provided an invaluable service to BBC News, as well as Government and commercial clients. Spotting developing stories and trends in hundreds of languages and countries across the world helps the BBC to offer a truly global news service. Like all media organisations, BBC Monitoring has to keep pace with the new landscape of digital and social media. And, like the rest of the BBC, BBC Monitoring needs to make savings."

The World Service said the Afghan bureau will be closed and new bases will open in Istanbul and Jerusalem.

Staff at BBC World News are taking 24-hour strike action from noon on Thursday 7 July



Tags: , broadcasting, bbc, love it or lose it, bbc monitoring, world service, caversham, job cuts