×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Strikes loom as BBC sharpens axe

Thompson to pinkslip 1,800 staff

BBC toppers and employees are predicting a spate of strikes before Christmas as director general Mark Thompson prepares to announce plans to pinkslip 2,800 staffers.

“The chances of industrial action are high,” a BBC insider said. “The journalists union is furious at what is expected to be several hundred compulsory redundancies in news,” the insider added.

“Above all these are cuts that will compromise quality, which can’t be good for license payers or staff,” journalists union leader Jeremy Dear said in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program.

The BBC restructuring is designed to plug a £2 billion ($4 billion) funding gap. But while 2,800 jobs will be cut, another 1,000, principally in new media, are likely to be created.

The funding shortfall emerged in January, when the British government failed to give Thompson the extra money he asked for as part of a hike to the BBC license fee, payable by all TV-watching homes in the U.K.

Thompson’s blueprint for the next six years (the term covered by the new license fee) will be announced today, but leaks indicate heavy pinkslipping in news, factual and children’s departments.

News supremo Peter Horrocks is expected to lead a newly merged news division that will abolish separate newsrooms for TV, radio and online.

In television, factual shows — a genre in which BBC inhouse producers have already been hit hard as more work is farmed out to indies — are expected to be affected.

The upshot is that auds will see more repeats on the screen as Thompson adopts a policy of making “fewer, but better” programs.

Another casualty of the Thompson master plan, which comes as the BBC attempts to rebuild credibility following a summer of scandals involving viewer deception, is understood to be the Beeb’s iconic West London HQ Television Center.

Known as “the concrete doughnut,” the building, worth an estimated $600 million, looks likely to be sold off as the Beeb redevelops Broadcasting House in central London.

More TV

  • BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary with

    BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary With Stephen Fry, Freddie Fox

    A new documentary about Oscar Wilde will tell the celebrated writer’s story with a star cast recreating excerpts from his greatest works, including “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Freddie Fox, Claire Skinner, Anna Chancellor and James Fleet will all perform in the 80-minute show, “The Importance of Being Oscar,” which [...]

  • FOSSE VERDON -- Pictured: (l-r) Michelle

    TV News Roundup: 'Fosse/Verdon' Premiere Date Set at FX

    In today’s TV news roundup, FX announced the premiere date for “Fosse/Verdon,” and Comedy Central released a new trailer for the final season of “Broad City.”  DATES “Workin’ Moms” is set to premiere Feb. 22 on Netflix. The series, which is currently in its third season, first aired in Canada on CBC Television and is [...]

  • Ilana Glazer Abbi Jacobson

    'Broad City' Stars on Discovering New Aspects of Their Characters

    Throughout the run of “Broad City,” creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have been conflicted about how much of their on-screen characters (also named Abbi and Ilana) should come directly from their personalities and lives. But when it came to the final season, Jacobson in particular experienced a life-changing shift that she wanted to impart [...]

  • The Goldbergs spinoff

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured' From 'Goldbergs' Producers

    NBC has ordered a pilot for the multi-camera comedy “Uninsured.” In the series, young parents Dave and Rebecca end up having to take care of Dave’s parents who have mishandled their finances and need help to pay down a sizable debt. Dan Levy will serve as writer and executive producer, with Doug Robinson and Alison Greenspan [...]

  • Emily Kapnek

    'Splitting Up Together' Creator Emily Kapnek Inks Overall Deal at ABC Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

    Writer and producer Emily Kapnek has signed a three-year overall deal at ABC Studios, Variety has learned exclusively. Kapnek most recently developed the ABC single-cam comedy series “Splitting Up Together,” which is based on the Danish series “Bedre skilt end aldrig.” She was previously under an overall deal at Warner Bros. Television, which produces “Splitting Up [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content