Thursday, October 18, 2007

Not kicking again

It's just that this whole BBC cuts malarky gets to me like a bad rash. The headline story is that there will be 1800 job losses, mostly in news and factual and the BBC is facing a £2 Billion shortfall.

Looking a little closer there will actually be something like 2800 job losses from news and factual, with 1000 being retrained to go into 'new media' and the £2 Billion shortfall is actually over 6 years.

A couple of things spring to mind. If 2800 jobs can go from news and factual without significantly damaging the quality of output then something was well rotten in the State of Denmark beforehand. Overstaffing and empire building perhaps? Given the percentage of BBC Governors whose Kith and Kin appear to be hanging around news and factual that may not be far from the truth.

But something really irks me when a public service broadcaster reknowned for it's news gathering service and documentaries slashes away at that service for the sake of budget, but leaves utter dross like Homes Under The Hammer, Beat The Bailliff, and just about every programme on BBC3 untouched. Not to mention all those digital radio stations who get about 5 listeners a day.

Here's a tip to save the news service millions of pounds a year. Stop the Empty Building interview. How many times do we see a reporter at ten at night standing outside the EMPTY Department of Transport or Home Office or Labour headquarters? There is no one there! Except the reporter and a very expensive outside broadcast team. For a thirty second spot where the reporter could impart all he has to say face to face with the news reader in the studio? Does the audience somehow feel the story isn't true unless the reporter is standing outside the blacked out building? I think not.

So, on the basis that the BBC hasn't actually had a cut in budget, it just didn't get as much as it had hoped for, why the sudden swinging cuts? Are they saying that they staffed up to levels they hoped they would be able to afford at a later date? Surely not?

Personally I think this smacks of Mark Thompson latching on to the opportunity to do some long overdue housekeeping. The spin that the BBC is in financial crisis just doesn't wash with me. It sounds more like the opening gambit to put to the Unions.

3 comments:

Jaded and Cynical said...

Here's what I don't understand.

1,800 emploees put out of work at the stroke of a pen for no obvious reason.

Meanwhile, on the very same day, ITV admits to a £6m fraud, and no one loses a job over that.

Please explain that piece of management logic to me.

Jon Peacey said...

I don't know whether the BBC is over-staffed or under-funded or anything else...

What I do know was that when the floods/water shortage down my way was covered we watched the news extensively to find out if the water was ever going to be turned on again and mainly watched the BBC (as ITV news over-sensationalized) and it became clear there must be something wrong: BBC 1 o'clock news would have a reporter down by the Severn (Quay Street); BBC Midlands Today would have their reporter about 3 foot away; BBC 6+10 o'clock news- same spot, same news, different reporter; BBC Morning news, same spot, same news, different reporters and BBC News 24... more reporters in the same place with the same news...

It was quite clear that there was something adrift... the BBC has excellent regional teams do they really need to airlift in Jane Hill, La Kaplinsky and many, many more all complete with all their attendants?

English Dave said...

Here you go jaded

Broadcasting union Bectu has accused the broadcaster of hypocrisy for planning the cuts while senior management keep their jobs following Deloitte's premium-rate phone-in investigation.

ITV has already cut around 30 jobs from the Factuals department in Leeds and a further 12 in London this year. Further cuts in Arts and Features have effectively halved staff numbers.

BECTU supervisory official Sharon Elliott said: "Whilst Michael Grade says that 'he does not intend to take a couple of scalps in expiation', the reality is that the company's rank and file staff fear that the company will seek to recover the resulting financial losses through job cuts elsewhere in ITV.

"What is really troubling is that it is poor leadership of the company's leading entertainment shows which is damaging the company's brand and reputation and yet staff elsewhere in the company, working on the company's public service output, are paying with their jobs."

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