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We know more now...

Sequin | 15:13 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2007

Up to 500 jobs cut in news
600 in the division that makes documentaries and factual programmes
500 across the regions .
10 percent less commissioning of programmes.
More repeats

Thanks to you all for your kind words. Any round of job cuts like this is difficult to bear, and we recognise of course that colleagues outside the BBC have had it hard for some time. It seems the brunt of the news cuts will be in television news - and through merging the radio, TV and online newsrooms into one. Radio sequence programmes, like PM will share job cuts with sister programmes like Today and the World Tonight.

Anyway, all your comments much appreciated. I'm going to be speaking to Mark Byford, the BBC's Deputy director General live so I hope to be able to put some of your questions to him.


  1. At 03:27 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    Ask him how on earth they are squaring the circle that quality will be maintained / middlebrow stuff will be the focus of cuts, when there is a 'slash and burn' attack on Panorama, Storyville, Horizon and other programmes which have already suffered by having to adopt a more 'dumbed down' approach ??

    I hate to roll out the cliche, but do these imbeciles really know the price of everything but the value of nothing ??

  2. At 03:28 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    And ask him, on behalf of Jeff Randall, late of this parish, why he is attacking Newsnight, when it represents less than a fraction of one percent of the Newsnight of the BBC budget ??

    I thought that the whole point of the BBC was to make stuff like 'Planet Earth' ??

    Is the cost of multiplayer/multilevel/multiplatform so much that it is nuking programme budgets ??

    Do the numbers of viewers 'online' justify getting rid of boring old 'television' programmes and unsexy rubbish like 'content' ? After all I'm sure there are some people out there thick enough to prefer ITN news, just so long as it is delivered in half minute bursts on to their mobile phone.. !!

  3. At 03:53 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    Sorry, I'm a bit ranty/ratty at the moment...

    Ask Byford why some programmes on the wireless, like PM/WATO/Today cannot be 'red-circled' against these changes in the same way the proverbial 'Crown Jewels' of Sports Broadcasting are ???

    At this rate of decay, PM will be reduced to a rolling rota of listeners volunteering to pop into the BH studios and read out their selection of top stories from the BBC website [including the adverts, fact fans !]..

    Actually, sorry, no, don't ask him that Sequin, as he may just think having listeners replace the staff is a 'great out of the box idea' and implement it...

  4. At 04:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:


    Having been through the process both as a "winner" and a "loser" in the past, I know it's never easy. I hope you all realise that we already value what you do :)

  5. At 04:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:


    Cuts in radio news just aren't acceptable when there's so much junk on television that could be scrapped.

    Please tell us how we can get this decision reversed.

    Also, don't shy away from asking Mr Byford how he can sit in your studio and look you and the production team in the eyes and say you don't need all the resources you have, to maintain the quality of the programme he's currently being broadcast on.

  6. At 04:07 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Dick Hobbs wrote:

    You might also ask why the BBC is wasting money developing the iPlayer when there are perfectly good, open standard, free web players already out there. Why re-invent the wheel?

    But the top question has to remain how will news standards be maintained when there are 500 fewer people working on it.

  7. At 04:08 PM on 18 Oct 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    My heart sinks.

    Frugs dear sequin and the whole team (and Eddie wherever he is!)

    It seemed to me that factual programming was slipping a bit anyway, please please please more substance, less style, talking (knowledgable) heads must be better value than vacuous CGI?

  8. At 04:20 PM on 18 Oct 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Point Mark Byford in the direction of SSCs post (24) on Watching and Waiting thread

  9. At 04:22 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    No need to guess your breed, eh, Bedd?

    Welsh Terrier!

    GRRRRRR! Me too!

  10. At 04:32 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Fiona wrote:

    Bedd (3), I may be completely wrong on this but I believe Sports Broadcasting is covered by BBC Outside Broadcasts which is a seperate division, still part of the BBC, but is being dealt with in a different manner. I believe (and again some tell me if I am wrong) that the cuts announced today relate to the core BBC elements of programming, news and radio? But you rant away m'dear, you are quite right to do so.

    It is a very difficult question to ask but as we do fund the BBC I do feel we have a right to say how the money as spent and as such the question that many have asked today should be asked, that is can there not be a ceiling on celebritries salaries. I would hate to think that we could potentially lose another series of something like Planet Earth just so we can have the pleasure of Jonathon Ross's chat show (his Radio 2 show is far superior to this any day)?

  11. At 04:39 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Jacques wrote:

    Let us hope that you do not take too much of the programme in 'navel gazing'. The is life outside the BBC !

    There is a whole world waiting to be reported

  12. At 04:46 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Molly wrote:

    I'm just waiting to hear whether a very young someone very close to me (hope they don't read this!) in a very *precarious* position in a regional office of the BBC will be affected....

    Sympathy with you here of course.


  13. At 04:50 PM on 18 Oct 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    Sequin....DH (6) has raised exactly the point I wanted to......make sure Mr Byford gives an answer.


  14. At 04:57 PM on 18 Oct 2007, PC wrote:

    Please ask Mr Byford why the BBC feels it necessary to plough so much of our taxes into a grubby soap opera which has consistently promulgated the idea of an East End full of violent, arrogant, inebriated and ignorant folk and which alone has done more damage to the East End of London than WW2 ever managed.

  15. At 05:24 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Did I really hear Mark Byford say that 18 million pounds over three years is 'a small part' of the cost of things?

    No, Mark, it's a *big* sum of money. It may be smaller than, say, the American national debt or the amount savers have in Northern Rock, but it is not small, and it is not justified. No individual is worth spending that much money on. I don't dislike Ross, and I am sure he's a perfectly darling person (even if he does try to jump queues as if it were his right just for existing) but no, really, perspective is needed here.

  16. At 05:27 PM on 18 Oct 2007, George Quinn wrote:

    The programme said that J Ross's salary £18million over 3 years), is the equivalent of 600 jobs. 18 million divided by 600 is 30000. £30k over 3 years is £10k per annum. Are you suggesting £10k is the average wage in the BBC, or is it rubbish journalism?

  17. At 05:35 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I think you'll find an irate listener claimed the equivalence, not "the programme"

    That's listener participation for you - the loons!


    "`A curse,' said Slartibartfast, `which will engulf the Galaxy in fire and destruction, and possibly bring the Universe to a premature doom. I mean it,' he added. `Sounds like a bad time,' said Ford, `with luck I'll be drunk enough not to notice.'"

    - Ford ensuring everyone knew where his priorities lay.

    Thu Oct 18 17:42:36 BST 2007

  18. At 06:31 PM on 18 Oct 2007, R. Whiting wrote:

    For many years I have wondered at the apparent profligacy of some BBC news coverage. It appears most blatantly in sports news. Take a typical football match: the BBC has a "on the mike" team of 5 or 6 plus presumably a back-up of many times this present, but come the early evening news we go over to yet another body from the "news" department who stands on the pitch and tells us about the forthcoming match.
    The same is true in cricket when 5live goes over to Paddy(?) for an update, meanwhile on Radio 4 longwave there is ball-by-ball coverage.
    It appears sometimes as though different parts of the organisation not only do not communicate but do not even recognize the other's existence.

  19. At 10:42 PM on 18 Oct 2007, mittfh wrote:

    Like everyone else here, I'm shocked at the announcement. IIRC, the £2bn loss was iniated by the charter renewal being agreed before the license fee settlement. Unfortunately, the charter renewal process involved the BBC agreeing to the Salford move and the digital switchover costs, so when it came for license fee renewal, they expected these costs would be included. Unfortunately, the government decided the BBC was asking too much...

    The salaries of some presenters may seem huge, but since many ex-BBC presenters have been tempted over to other channels by higher paychecks, if a cap was placed on salaries many high-profile presenters would migrate.

    And although theoretically, the BBC shouldn't be bound by ratings, the sheer fact that their ratings are published means that they have to take heed of them. If they didn't consistently produce rating winners during prime-time, even if the programmes themselves were very high quality, some newspaper editors (especially those in charge of the red-tops) would start ranting about the diminishing ratings.

    One thing not many people have touched on so far is the potential sale of TV Centre. It would be interesting to know what percentage of TV programming output originates at TVC - although many productions are made elsewhere, I'm sure the majority of studio-based shows are made at TVC. Sure, it's in central London, but IIRC the BBC own the land as well as the building, so they're not paying rent or anything on it. It's also very accessible - a tube station almost opposite, a major elevated dual carriageway (partially former motorway) just to the North, which provides easy access from outside the capital, an iconic design...
    Now imagine other locations, like Shepperton Studios or BBC Elstree. How many of those features do they share?

    Mind you, the BBC have already done a spot of downgrading - about 20 miles NE of me is the site of BBC Pebble Mill, the former home of BBC Birmingham. AFAIK its replacement (on the top two storeys of The Mailbox - a former Royal Mail sorting office, now largely a shopping centre) only has one TV studio (Midlands Today) - the pilot for The One Show was a temporary studio, and relied on an OB truck in the complex's loading bay.

  20. At 11:30 AM on 19 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    It's awfully hard to get a hog to butcher itself.

    -Strom Thurmond, explaining
    why Congress doesn't
    decrease deficit spending.
    From the Bill Wagner Collection

  21. At 02:17 PM on 19 Oct 2007, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    For the Management of the BBC: BBC equals freedom and entertainment in light of the junk that comes from private stations. If you cut the BBC, most of the customers will not go to commercial TV but may go to other areas such as Press TV and Al Jazeera.

  22. At 03:44 PM on 20 Oct 2007, Frances O wrote:

    In the blind hope that this ever gets past 502:

    Have you noticed how theres' a trend for BBC TV newscasters to present classical music programmes on R4?

    First it was Jim Naughtie, and now Huw Edwards.

    btw, is there really such a word as 'coronated'?????? (as heard on Huw's programme today)


  23. At 10:19 PM on 21 Oct 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Frances O @ 22, yes, there is. The verb 'coronate' is in the 1933 S.O.D., marked 'rare', dated 1623, meaning 'to crown'. 'Coronated' is in there too, dated 1676, a 'ppl a' meaning 'of flowers: arranged in a whorl', or 'in botany and zoology, furnished with a corona' and some special sorts of shells.

    But I bet that Huw Edwards didn't know that. The word doesn't seem to be in any of the other dictionaries I've got apart from the S.O.D.s, even the ones less than ten years old. ;-)

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