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Government must plug BBC's funding gap, says NUJ

© red engine

23 June 2020

The BBC has announced that more than 150 jobs are to go In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Before the Covid-19 crisis, the BBC said 450 jobs would go in News, as part of planned cuts of £800million. The job losses were put on hold as the corporation moved to cope with covering the pandemic. The corporation has also deferred the ending of free TV licence to the over-75s, at a cost of £40 million a month. The BBC now says the Covid-19 crisis alone has cost it £125million.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“The BBC is at a pivotal point in its history. Already faced with achieving cuts of £800million, the additional Covid-19 funding gap of £125million will lead to swingeing cuts to jobs, programming and services. At a time when our public service broadcaster has brilliantly risen to the challenge of a global pandemic, providing vital information and news to communities faced with an unprecedented health crisis, it is now having to pay the cost for that public service by losing experienced talented staff, and curtailing important and valuable news and content.
“The government should step forward to fill this Covid-19 funding gap, rather than inflict further cuts on an already financially challenged BBC. There must then also be a broader debate around the funding of the BBC so that our public service broadcaster can be taken off the critical list with its future health and independence secured.”. 
  • Scotland needs to save £6.2million, of which £3.5-4million would come from staffing, the equivalent of around 60 posts.
  • Wales has already delivered £6million of savings over the past 3 years, partly due to a move to new premises, but still needs to save another £4.5million; that’s 60 posts in 2021/22.
  • Northern Ireland needs to save £3.6million which will equate to between 30 and 40 post closures, fewer resources being spent on the 10.30pm bulletin and watered-down coverage of party conferences. 

The figures for England are not yet known but are expected to be substantial. The corporation has called on all staff to consider applying for voluntary redundancy. Announcing the redundancies call, Lord Hall, director general, said the BBC now had 24 per cent less to spend on its UK public services than if the licence fee had risen with inflation over the past decade.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said: 

“The proposed cuts to the nations and regions are extremely worrying.The BBC says it wants to get out of London and better reflect the make up of the UK. These job cuts will make that far harder. It will also mean less scrutiny and holding to account of local politicians and decision makers. If the BBC shrinks and reduces news coverage in these areas there is no one else that will be able to step in and fill the void left behind.”

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Tags: , bbc, cuts, northern ireland, wales, scotland, tony hall, covid-19, coronavirus, public service broadcasting