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Low TV Tax Hike Means Major Job Cuts At BBC

BBC director general Michael Checkland said more jobs will have to go following the government’s decision to raise the annual consumer tax on tv sets by less than the rate of inflation and its acceptance of a report recommending the pubcaster could save £200 million (about $380 million) over the next five years.

Checkland, who last year said 1,400 jobs would be axed as part of a three-year plan to cut the BBC’s annual budget by £75 million ($142.5 million) annually, now says the number of jobs to be axed will have to double. (The BBC employs about 22,500 people, down from 25,000 five years ago.)

Government’s move to peg the license fee below inflation follows a report by accountancy firm Price Waterhouse that says the pubcaster could earn an extra £72 million ($135 million) a year through increased business sponorship of tv programs and additional program sales and that it could save £131 million ($245 million) over the next five years by streamlining management.

The license fee will rise £6 (about $11) to £77 ($145) a year.

The official response from the Beeb that is that the cost savings are unwelcome but manageable and won’t hurt the range or quality of BBC programming.

The BBC also said it was setting up a Charter Review Group to draw up a policy document that will be the basis of a public debate before the renewal of the BBC charter at the end of 1996.

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