Last Friday’s heavily leaked Times story of cuts at the BBC has been confirmed today with the publication of the BBC strategy review. In it Mark Thompson sets out the BBC’s intention to make £600m in savings through the closure of BBC6 Music, and the BBC Asian Network (audience 360,000), halving the size of the BBC’s website, shedding 25% of its website staff and a quarter of their online budget in the process, General secretary, Jeremy Dear, has pledged to rally other trades unionists and licence fee payers to oppose the cuts and defend jobs.
It is very timely that the union’s NEC is meeting on Friday and Saturday. We will get an up to date report from Jeremy Dear on his meeting with Thompson tomorrow (Wednesday) and I am sure discuss and agree a campaign strategy paper for action against the cuts. As many of the cuts will be put out to public consultation it is important to get a wide coalition involved in opposing these disgraceful proposals. A petition has already been circulated at: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/BBCcuts?source=homepage#petition – please support it.
Clearly this is not a fight we undertake alone. There has been a fantastic public response to these miserable proposals. A recent NUJ news release states that a ‘Save BBC6 Music’ Facebook group has gained almost 90,000 members in just a few days and group members have appealed to the NUJ and other BBC unions to organise a joint demonstration.
These proposals come about because of Thompson’s fear of the Tories winning the general election, just a couple of months away, coupled with Murdoch’s newspapers (and others) constant anti BBC agenda. And even if Thompson manages to appease the Tories, (they could always come back for more later) their new found allies in News International are not so easily won over. A leader in the Times headed ‘big, bloated and cunning’, argued that the BBC would still be too large even with the cuts!
Finally the report itself was written by John Tate, the BBC’s controller, director of policy and strategy (total remuneration £187,800 – August 2009 – from BBC web site) and former head of the Conservative party policy unit.