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BBC plan to axe HR jobs

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A strategic review to be published on Thursday will reveal plans to make 2,500 redundancies, HR jobs are on the line.

Back office jobs will be targeted.

BBC director general Mark Thompson released his plans to save the corporation £320m a year over three years in order to clear its overdraft by 2007.

The BBC currently employs 27,000 people and Thompson told staff most departments would have to save 15%, making redundancies inevitable. Based on the objective to “spend less on process and more on content”, Thompson’s review will have the biggest impact on the corporation’s professional services staff.

Finance, human resources, communications, policy and strategy staff will be cut by 47% over the next three years. But less than half the savings would translate into redundancies, the BBC said.

Management and administration staff are also targeted for 47% cuts, amounting to 2,500 back office job losses in total. A further 400 positions would be cut from the Factual and Learning departments.

For programme makers, the most significant element of the review is to move London-based units including Children’s TV, BBC Sport, and the Five Live and Five Live Sports Extra radio stations to a new headquarters in Manchester, along with new media R&D and learning departments.

Since taking over from his predecessor Greg Dyke following the publication of the Hutton report in May, Thompson has undertaken an efficiency review to ready the BBC for the renewal of its charter – including appointing Ernst & Young to review its internal controls.

Critics such as MP Gerald Kaufman, who chairs the Commons culture select committee have accused the organisation of building up excessive debts.

While political dramas have seen a change in the BBC’s senior management, the finance department has undergone significant changes in recent years, with much of its transactional activities already outsourced to Medas, a subsidiary of IT services group EDS.

While the majority of the processing work has been outsourced, the BBC has a 27-strong internal audit and risk management department which oversees both programme-makers and external contractors such as EDS. Among its other responsibilities are providing monthly performance figures for BBC management.

One of the people responsible for administering the administrative cuts will be chief operating officer John Smith, who oversaw the move to a more outsourced finance department. He was promoted to a more senior role in May and was replaced by Zarin Patelas as group finance director.

The broadcasting union Bectu and the National Union of Journalists have both threatened strike action if compulsory redundancies or forced staff relocations are announced. No representatives have yet emerged to indicate whether remaining BBC administrative employees are likely to follow the media unions’ example.

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