LONDON — The first round of job cuts at the BBC was confirmed Thursday as 1,730 staffers were axed in moves to save £355 million ($639 million), far higher than the $576 million target announced late last year.
The cuts will save $250 million a year by 2007-08, with that coin to go for new programming.
Around one in two jobs will go in the pubcaster’s Professional Services division. This covers backroom activities including strategy, finance, property, business affairs, personnel and marketing.
The next cull is expected later this month: Staffers are bracing themselves for a total of 5,000 job losses.
In a statement, BBC director general Mark Thompson said: “In December, I talked about the creative prize for the BBC and our audiences — but the cost is nothing short of transformation.
“We have made a strong start, showing we are serious about change and ensuring we are maximizing the value of our income for audiences’ benefit.
“We need to make the BBC a simpler, more agile operation, ready to take the creative lead in a very different, very challenging digital future.”
Last week, Thompson’s policy of engineering a leaner, fitter BBC won tacit approval from the U.K. government when a pre-legislative policy document, known as a Green Paper, safeguarded the pubcaster’s license fee, paid by every home that owns a TV, until at least 2016.