The BBC has today announced that there are to be massive job losses at the corporation over the next few years.

Essentially, 2,500 jobs will be lost over the next 6 years but due to a change around in departments and various mergers, there will actually be 700 new jobs created so the net sum of job losses will be 1,800.

There will also be a cutback in the amount of new programmes produced by the station, which obviously means that the number of repeats is set to rise as a consequence.

All this is due to a £2billion shortfall in their anticipated budget.  The BBC has obviously been spending outwith it’s financial limits and is now having to come to terms with it - the salaries of it’s presenting staff have hit the headlines in recent years and for good reason as they seemed vastly over the top.  Their application to have the licence fee increased in the years to come was rejected earlier in the year, so now they are having to cut back on their spending.

But where are the cutbacks to be made and who is to lose their jobs?

Well, firstly the three news departments are to be merged into one - which to me seems like common sense as they are all reporting the same stories (give or take some specialist items).  So TV, radio and online news will soon be housed in one unit which is surely going to streamline things a bit and I see that as a good thing - from the insider’s point of view it may not be so good, but from where I’m sitting I can’t really see a downside of this.

The merger is bound to offer up some unneeded personnel as there will have been an overlap in duties in the past.  Whereas before a different person was needed to cover the same story for different mediums, presumably the same person will now do them all.  The big danger to the output quality is if more people are sacked than is necessary.

Despite 660 redundancies in the BBC’s programme-making department - BBC Vision - Jane Bennet, director of BBC Vision said the corporation would continue to provide a wide range of original drama, such as Spooks, as well as comedy, popular entertainment, and “world class” factual output.

Up to 370 people will be made redundant in BBC News by 2012, but the process is expected to be pushed through “as fast as possible”.

If you think about what the BBC does well, you think of it’s news coverage, documentaries and factual programmes.  The news that so many jobs are to go from the department which makes these programmes is a bit of a worry - if the quality and number of these shows is cut then it will only send the BBC into a downward spiral.  People don’t mind paying a licence fee if they are getting good value for money, ie as long as the BBC’s programmes are of a sufficiently high standard.

“I think the BBC can’t be immune to the need to make efficiency savings, but the real worry is that these are in core areas,” he said.

“Around a fifth of the redundancies are in BBC News, which is the bit of the BBC that people think the BBC do very well.

“You have to be very careful that if you are streamlining newsrooms it does not affect quality, as a far as audiences are concerned.” Jeremy Hunt, Shadow Culture Secretary

I don’t have a clue how many people actually work in each department, so it may be that these job losses are pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but given the amount of publicity this story is receiving it makes you wonder whether it might be very significant after all.

ITV have been on a bit of a downer lately, as it has been the major loser in the whole phone-voting scandal but just as the BBC should be gloating in this fact it has had to come out with this news today.  Incidentally, ITV chose this day to announce it’s own serious shortcomings which is surely more than coincidence?

The main headline on the front of the Daily Mail today didn’t concern the fact that hundreds of people faced losing their jobs at the BBC, it was the fact that viewers were going to be faced with more repeats that upset them most.  What twaddle that is!

Yes, there will be more repeats but we have had repeats on TV every since they moved from showing every programme live.  The BBC makes and buys quality programmes (mostly), so watching repeats shouldn’t be too much of a chore - as long as they pick and choose carefully, and don’t show the same ones over and over!

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Personally, I would say that one way to cut costs is to stop making so much of the expensive programmes - and by that I don’t mean excellent shows like Planet Earth, as they are truly world-class.  The BBC are highly regarded when it comes to programming like that, so it should ensure that side of it’s business doesn’t suffer through this turbulent time.  What should be cut, in my view, are shows like Eastenders which have a huge cast and crew, and are shown every week night.

Lately, the show has had a lot of bad press over storylines and falling viewing figures so why should it be exempt from this?  In any normal business, the departments which are underachieving are the ones which would face a cull, but obviously there would be a huge uproar should anything happen to that particular programme.

Many BBC shows are broadcast around the world, so their quality reflects on us as a nation - shows from ITV are also shown worldwide but I don’t think that they are necessarily identified as being British.  Perhaps that doesn’t make much sense, but ITV’s shows are much more format-based, eg Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, X-Factor, etc - the same show is remade for each country’s audience rather than ITV’s show being broadcast everywhere in the way that Planet Earth or something similar would be. 

Just how much these job cuts will affect the output from the BBC remains to be seen, but for the good of British television I hope they manage to keep any disruptions behind the scenes.