‘40 jobs at risk’ as BBC plans £15m online cuts

BBC New Broadcasting HouseUK pubcaster the BBC could cut 40 jobs from its online division as part of a round of cuts aimed at saving £15 million (US$21.7 million).

The plan, resulting from an ‘Online Creative Review, will likely see around 11,000 recipes on the BBC website removed or archived, with magazine-type content and local news also stripped back.

A BBC source confirmed the cuts, saying: “What we do has to be high quality, distinctive, and offer genuine public value. While our audiences expect us to be online, we have never sought to be all things to all people and the changes being announced will ensure that we are not.”

The savings need to be found by 2018 as part of a push towards a more distinctive service, and this will involve services being closed or scaled back.

Last week, a government white paper on the future of the BBC was published, revealing a raft of sweeping recommendations aimed at making it more “distinctive, high quality and impartial”, and today’s cuts are directly linked to that directive.

Staff in affected areas were informed of the plans today.

Broadcast workers organisation BECTU said the cuts would come from the iWonder website, which launched last year, the Newsbeat website and app, News Magazine Online, the Travel and Food sections of the BBC website, and Local News’ Index Pages.

BECTU’s statement said that “several online teams” had been “at a standstill since April 1 as managers wait for budgets to be approved”.

“Perhaps critically, development spending on BBC iPlayer, a hugely successful BBC service, will no longer be protected from cuts from April 2018,” the body added in its statement.

The BBC is faced with making £700 million in annual savings by 2020 so it can burden paying for licence fees for over-75s.

UPDATE: The BBC has confirmed the online review and subsequent cuts, with James Harding, director of BBC News & Current Affairs, saying in a statement: “The internet requires the BBC to redefine itself, but not its mission: the BBC’s purpose online is to provide a distinctive public service that informs, educates and entertains.

“The Review sets out what we want to be famous for online: trusted news; the place where children come to learn and play; high quality entertainment; live sports coverage and sports news; arts and culture, history and science; and historic moments, national events. And we are going to focus our energy on these six areas: BBC News; iPlay and BBC Bitesize; BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio; BBC Sport; the Ideas Service; and BBC Live.

“We will stop doing some things where we’re duplicating our work, for example on food, and scale back services, such as travel, where there are bigger, better-resourced services in the market.”