DQF: Mark Thompson's email to staff
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DQF: Mark Thompson's email to staff

Following today’s Delivering Quality First announcements, BBC Director General Mark Thompson has told staff the idea of closing a TV or Radio channel completely was considered but rejected as part of the cost-saving plans.

He also said the corporation would work with unions to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies as they look to shed 2,000 from the total workforce over the next five years.

You can see how the BBC’s radio services are likely to be affected by the DQF proposals here.

Here’s a copy of the message sent to staff by the Director General:

Dear All,

Today we have launched the conclusions of the Delivering Quality First (DQF) process.

When we launched DQF in January our challenge was how could we deliver the strategy Putting Quality First (PQF), which we announced last year, within the parameters of the new licence fee settlement to 2016/17.

We knew we would need to identify 16% savings by 2016 to both pay for the World Service and the other new obligations we have taken on and to absorb rising prices over that period.

We also believed that it was important to find an additional 4% of savings to spend on boosting quality and investing in our new digital future. But in looking for the total of 20% savings we were mindful that we needed to recognise the impact of previous efficiency rounds and beware of damaging quality. In order to do this we would have to look at both scope changes (changes to the programmes and services we produce) and productivity changes (using technology or new ways of working to produce the same output to the same or higher quality for less money).

Our starting point was that we wanted to protect as much content as possible. So there will be minimal reductions to some areas like Radio 4, Children’s output and much of our News provision from the toughest scope changes – although every area will be asked to find some productivity gains.

The areas where we will be making more significant savings include new programme spend on the newer TV and radio networks, sports spend, entertainment and BBC Two’s daytime budget. We are implementing a 25% reduction in BBC Online’s budget.

Meanwhile in other areas we will make savings by closer integration (such as closer working between the newer and more established channels (BBC Four and BBC Two , Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra etc) or by concentrating our spend on peaktime (with all local radio stations maintained but sharing more content in the afternoons and evenings).

We considered and rejected the option of closing a whole service because of the strong public support for all of our services and the limited savings we would have made. For example we saved more cash from the recent F1 deal with Sky than we would have done by shutting a whole digital TV channel. We will be reinvesting in drama on BBC One, specialist factual on BBC Two and Four, Newsgathering in priority areas, the Proms and investigations. There will also be money to ensure we can deliver our goal of connected broadcasting: delivering BBC services and content across multiple screens and making the archive available online.

We will also need to make changes to the way we work: increasing our collaboration and the way we commission and make content. We will move to One BBC News, a single newsgathering system here and around the world to deliver “the best journalism in the world”. In television we will move to one BBC production economy across the UK with much closer working between Vision, North and the Nations. This process will be helped by the use of technologies like Fabric and new digital centres like Salford and W1.

There will be further geographical movement of staff across the BBC with 1,000 staff mainly from support divisions to move to Salford by 2016. They will be joined by You and Yours and in 2016 by BBC Three. We will streamline network production across the UK, meaning that factual production will cease in Birmingham, though other network and local output will continue.

We also want to make changes to our deal for staff – offering a fairer and more transparent pay and conditions framework. This will mean changes to UPA, redundancy terms and the way we organise ourselves. You will receive further details from Lucy Adams by email about this shortly but we are committed to discussing these plans with you and ensuring there is proper regard for existing accrued entitlements.

We believe the result of all these changes will be the closure of an additional 2000 posts across the organisation to 2017. We will work closely with the unions to deliver the best possible outcome for all concerned. And whilst we cannot rule out compulsory redundancy we hope wherever possible to work with unions and staff to minimise it.

The proposed changes to services will now go out to Trust consultation until December 2011, however most of the productivity and organisational changes can start before then and we intend to work closely with you on these over the next few months.

From this afternoon divisional briefings will start to take place with Directors to give you more specific details and there will be more information online from 5pm on Gateway. Next week there will be a phone-in to discuss these issues further and Directors will be visiting offices across the country over the next few weeks to answer your questions in person.

The changes we have announced today add up to the most significant change to the BBC in a generation. It will require us to concentrate our resources on what matters most to our audiences and transform the way we work. The process will not be easy and we should not underestimate the challenge ahead. The BBC of 2017 will be a smaller, more focused organisation but one better placed to take advantage of the digital future and completely committed to delivering the highest quality content for all audiences.

All the best,
Mark Thompson

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0 0 625 06 October, 2011 Industry News 1:55 pm 201110 Thursday, October 6th, 2011

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