Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thompson under Fire over BBC Cuts; Strike Threat: Live Shows like Strictly Come Dancing Could Be Affected by Industrial Action Going: The Sale of Television Centre, on a 1.-Acre Site in White City, Will Raise Hundreds of Millions of Pounds for the Corporation

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thompson under Fire over BBC Cuts; Strike Threat: Live Shows like Strictly Come Dancing Could Be Affected by Industrial Action Going: The Sale of Television Centre, on a 1.-Acre Site in White City, Will Raise Hundreds of Millions of Pounds for the Corporation

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEXA BARACAIA

THE BBC was in uproar today as staff accused bosses of creating "mayhem"with plans for massive budget cuts.

Director-general Mark Thompson said 2,500 posts will be closed, leading to1,800 redundancies with the rest taken up by redeployments and "naturalwastage".

There will be 10 per cent fewer original programmes made, the Television Centrein White City will be sold off and there will be cash sliced from the budgetsof all divisions.

Flagship series Arena will be cut from seven episodes a year to five, theinternational documentary strand Storyville will be relegated from itsoccasional slot on BBC2 to digital channel BBC4, with the number of yearlyepisodes cut from 45 a year to 25. BBC1 natural history series Wild will beaxed altogether.

Some senior producers said they had not been briefed at all about dramaticchanges to their programmes and had to find out the details from journaliststhis morning.

Job losses will hit news and current affairs the hardest, with 490 posts goingover the next five years, and the factual division losing 420 jobs. But fewparts of the BBC empire will be unscathed.

Presenters including John Humphrys, Mark Lawson of Radio 4's Front Row andformer fertility doctor Robert Winston rounded on Mr Thompson during a briefinglast night, accusing him of stamping out dissent, employing too many executivesand destroying morale.

One union leader said today strike action was "100 per cent guaranteed" unlessthe BBC removes the threat of redundancies.

Unions are also opposed to plans unveiled today to axe the "unpredictabilityallowance" for future recruits. The subsidy is paid, instead of overtime, tobroadcast staff forced to work unsocial hours and at very short notice. Onesenior journalist told the Standard: "That money accounts for about a quarterof the wages. To try to cut it is appalling." If Mr Thompson refuses to bow tounion pressure, staff will ballot for strike action and walk-outs look likelyto take place.

Any action will be designed to cause maximum disruption to key news broadcasts,live sporting events, live entertainment ITV faces such as Strictly ComeDancing and, if sustained, could even take long running serials such asEastEnders off air. …

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