Radio to shed 65 more posts in second phase of DQF

Helen Boaden Helen Boaden: BBC Radio will be 'smaller, simpler, but... it will still be brilliant'

Radio is to shed 65 more staff by next April, as it looks to find £6m of savings.

Jobs will bear the brunt as radio stations are spared the axe in the second phase of Delivering Quality First.

More than 30 production roles will go, while a divisional restructure will make savings by bringing the management and running of certain stations together.

Announcing the plans, Helen Boaden told staff on Tuesday that 31 production posts, at all levels and across bases in London, Salford, Bristol and Birmingham, are earmarked for closure by next April. Another seven will go by April 2016.

And Multiplatform, which has already seen a 40% drop in headcount, will lose a further 7.4 posts.

The director of radio said it was tough to find savings when both budgets and teams were small and acknowledged that £6m was 'a huge sum in radio terms'.

Two new hubs

As such, she will create two new hubs over the next year to reduce costs.

The pop music hub - comprising Radios 1, 2, 1Xtra, 6Music and Asian Network - will see the stations share commissioning, operations, scheduling, filming and live events at the expense of ten roles, including six editor posts.

A further eight posts will go at Radio 1 as a result of schedule changes.

The speech and classical music hub, meanwhile, will bring together Radios 3, 4 and 4Extra. Radios 3 and 4 will have their own commissioners and schedulers but will share management, presentation and administration teams. Ten jobs will go as a result.

The BBC performing groups and BBC Proms will be part of the hub but will not be affected by the changes.

Boaden said it was 'genuinely difficult, painful stuff' and stressed that those at risk of redundancy should not lose confidence in their creativity. 'It's not because you did something wrong,' insisted the director, who promised that redeployment opportunities would be sought for all those who wanted them.

Voluntary redundancy

There will be a trawl for volunteers for redundancy, although Boaden reserved the right to reject volunteers if it made financial sense to do so.

The division was charged with finding £38m of efficiencies under DQF, with savings helping to fund the BBC's digital ambitions.

It has already saved £16m in phase one, which included the loss of 149 jobs. Planned changes to schedules, volume of programmes, technology and commercial income are expected to yield a further £16m.

But even after this latest wave of cuts another £1.5m must still be found, said the director, who ruled out reducing the number of controllers 'at this time'.

6 Music burns

Asked about the possibility of closing a station, she said the BBC had been 'very burned by the 6 Music experience'.

The 'relatively modest amounts' to be saved by axing a service were 'not worth it', she considered, while the age profile of some audiences made a move online inappropriate.

Over the five years of DQF, the division's headcount is expected to fall from 1300 in 2012 to 1100 in 2017.

'BBC Radio will be different,' admitted Boaden, who will meet with unions next week to discuss the proposals. 'It will be smaller, simpler, but I'm also completely confident it will still be brilliant.'

And she urged colleagues to support each other during this difficult time.

'Radio is a strikingly civilised division and that becomes more important when the pressures is on,' she said.

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