BBC seeks UK job cuts as part of $218 million coronavirus savings

LONDON (AFP) – The BBC said Wednesday it has invited staff to apply for voluntary redundancy as the broadcaster seeks £125 million (S$218 million) in savings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cuts, which the broadcaster described in a statement as “necessary”, would be put in place in the current financial year to March 2021.

The cuts would be put in place in the current financial year to March 2021.
The cuts would be put in place in the current financial year to March 2021.PHOTO: BBC/FACEBOOK

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic means the BBC needs to make £125 million of savings this financial year, in addition to the considerable efficiency savings the Corporation had previously committed to and planned for,” it said.

“The BBC is therefore inviting public service staff to express an interest in voluntary redundancy.”

It did not say how many jobs could be lost but the broadcaster currently employs more than 22,000 people.

A plan, announced in January, to cull 450 jobs in the BBC News department as part of a multi-million pound savings drive, was suspended in March because of the demands of covering the pandemic.

The announcement comes just weeks after a new director-general, Tim Davie, was appointed at a critical time for the BBC.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has said it is considering decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee, which can lead to a £1,000 fine.

Such a move could seriously hamper the broadcaster’s ability to collect much-needed revenue.

In June last year, the BBC confirmed plans to make most over-75s pay the TV licence fee – which they currently do not have to pay – claiming it needed to avoid closing channels and making substantial cuts.

It currently has an annual budget of around £4.9 billion.

The BBC has also found itself in the crosshairs of the major political parties in the UK, with both Conservative and Labour supporters accusing it of bias in its new coverage in recent times.

Earlier this month, a senior BBC executive told MPs that it would have to air more repeats because of the pandemic’s effect on TV schedules.

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