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More cuts at Beeb

Unions decry 2,050 pinkslips in 'worst day'

LONDON — Mark Thompson, the BBC’s ax-wielding director general, announced a further 2,050 job cuts Monday — a 13% reduction on top of the 1,730 job losses announced March 10.

The blood-letting includes 735 posts in nations and regions; 424 in factual and learning (the sprawling department that makes docs including “The Blue Planet” and “Walking With Dinosaurs”); 420 in BBC News; 150 in the drama, entertainment and children’s division; 66 in sport; 58 in new media; 47 in TV broadcasting; and 150 from the radio and music department.

Unions at the pubcaster described Monday as the “worst day in the history of the BBC” and accused Thompson of “ripping the heart out of BBC program-making.”

“Today’s figures simply do not add up,” said Jeremy Dear, leader of the journalists’ union, adding they “fail to take proper regard as to how money could be saved without axing jobs.

“How can hardworking staff maintain quality whilst trying to do not only their own job but that of thousands of their colleagues, too? The inevitable result is that … standards and quality will be damaged,” Dear said.

Thompson plans to cut 6,000 of the pubcaster’s 23,000 staff, which he believes is essential to make the org fighting fit for the digital age.

He told staff: “This is all money we plan to spend on programs and content, both to improve the services we deliver to audiences right now and to build strong BBC services in the future.

“All divisions are now finding ways of achieving these savings through genuine improvements rather than crude cuts.”

Monday’s2,050 job losses bring the total reduction in the BBC’s payroll to just over 3,780.

When commercial outfits BBC Broadcast and Resources are sold, the job losses will be north of 6,000.

Overall, Thompson plans to save £221 million ($398 million) a year by March 2008. The coin will be reinvested in programs.

The investment priorities are $84 million a year in TV drama; $41 million for factual shows and an extra $81 million for news, some of which is earmarked for covering the Middle East.

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