Another 65 posts are to be cut at BBC Radio in what the corporation is describing as a “major internal reorganisation”.
The 65 jobs will go as part of an ongoing plan that will see a reduction of approximately 200 roles – roughly 15% of the division’s headcount – between 2012 and 2017.
The reorganisation will affect staffing and structures across Radios 1, 2, 3, 4, 1Xtra, 6 Music, 4 Extra and the Asian Network in a division which contained around 1,300 people in 2012 and, under the new plans, will employ approximately 1,100 in 2017.
The restructure will see the creation of two new ‘hubs’ within the division, which will bring together some management, running and support of BBC stations: one around pop music, incorporating Radio 1, Radio 2, 1Xtra, 6 Music and the Asian Network, and the other around classical music and speech output, covering Radio 3, Radio 4, 4 Extra and the BBC Proms and performing groups.
The changes aren’t too dissimilar to those suggest by radio executive John Myers when he was commissioned to provide a report on how BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 could save money, in 2011. He suggested the two networks should consider introducing a combined management structure and operations.
On reading the news, John told RadioToday: “These look like sensible cut backs that won’t affect the output too much but more needs to be done about the BBC’s own central recharges to radio, that make up around 70% of the total cost of each network.”
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, told staff that the reorganisation was essential if BBC Radio is to preserve the distinctiveness of its on-air output for audiences following the 2010 Licence Fee settlement.
“BBC Radio is the envy of the world and our creativity is second to none,” she said. “But we must also be as small as we can be, to meet our savings challenges and increase our agility in the digital world without losing our distinctiveness or damaging relationships with our many audiences. Reducing the division’s headcount by 15% is challenging, but shows just how hard we are working to drive efficiency in everything we do.”
Within the hubs, some functions will be shared and others will remain separate. Each radio station will retain a dedicated Controller who will preserve the station’s culture and distinctiveness, but will collaborate with their counterpart in the hub.
In the pop music hub, Radios 1 and 2 will share commissioning, filming, live events and operations, whilst keeping separate production, business management and music teams. In the classical music and speech hub, some station management, presentation and administration will be shared, but Radios 3 and 4 will retain their own commissioning, scheduling and, in Radio 3’s case, music functions.
The new hubs will exist only as internal groupings and there are no plans to change the way the stations are represented on-air as a result of their creation.
Staff were told that further cuts would still be required in order to meet the BBC’s ambitious savings plans to the end of the Charter which, under the Delivering Quality First strategy, are on course to make £800m of savings annually by 2017.
The BBC says efficiencies already delivered include the reduction in senior manager numbers and pay bill by more than 30% since 2009, the capping of severance payments at a maximum of £150,000 and the ongoing transformation of the BBC’s property estate which is delivering savings of £67 million a year right through to 2017.