£50m savings plan
BBC Scotland to axe 60 jobs as corporation cuts costs
BBC Scotland at Pacific Quay will share the cutbacks (pic: Terry Murden)
The BBC is axeing up to 160 jobs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help save £50m across the nations over the next two years.
Scotland and Wales will each cut 60 posts at a saving of £6.2m and £4.5m respectively, while Northern Ireland will shed up to 40 posts to save £3.6m. It was not known where the cuts will fall.
Cost savings in England are not yet finalised but are expected to be substantial, according to the trade journal Broadcast.
The BBC is targeting £125m worth of savings by the end of this year as it delays over-75 licence fee payments, delays cuts to its news division and looks set to have to cope without a £60m BBC Studios dividend.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet called on the government to “step forward to fill this Covid-19 funding gap rathern than inflict cuts on an already financially challenged BBC”.
We aren’t immune to the new financial challenges now facing many businesses up and down the country– Donalda MacKinnon,. BBC Scotland
BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon said: “BBC Scotland has been fortunate to attract significant investment in the last few years securing a new TV channel, increased network programming and the establishment of a design and engineering hub.
“That meant we were able to create an additional 250 jobs – but we aren’t immune to the new financial challenges now facing many businesses up and down the country.
“Sadly, that means that along with cost cutting measures throughout our departments, we estimate we will also have to lose around 60 posts to make the savings required.”
The search for volunteers for redundancy will take place over the next six weeks.
BBC Scotland currently employs more than 1,100 workers across the country, including at its headquarters at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen.
The news comes as the pressure mounts on the BBC to reverse cuts to English regional news output.
Conservative MP Tom Hunt said yesterday: “It is actually quite chilling that a state broadcaster, funded by taxpayers and licence fee payers, is taking decisions to erase parts of our past, with no consultation or democratic process.
“Unlike the BBC’s often contentious national coverage, the BBC’s local news and politics coverage is one of the few BBC outputs that still unites many of us in support of the corporation. The national leadership of the BBC needs to be careful what it wishes for.”
Politicians from across the party spectrum have said there are wider questions over the BBC’s London-centricity.
Former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper pointed to disparities between London’s New Broadcasting House and the BBC’s bases in the English regions.
“I am always struck by the fact when we visit Broadcasting House, we see lots of costs have been spread about,” he added.
“But when we visit our regional centres, be it BBC Gloucestershire or the BBC’s headquarters in Bristol, we see a very cost-effective organisation—far more cost-effective, dare I say it, than BBC HQ?”
Newly appointed Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes today said the BBC should consider whether removing regional news shows is a good idea in light of the fact that it may struggle to hit its nations and regions quotas this year.