BBC head of news James Harding announces 75 jobs to go in latest round of budget cuts

Cuts: BBC News has announced 75 jobs will be cut

A further 75 jobs are to be cut at BBC News as part of the Delivering Quality First programme, head of news James Harding has announced.

Harding refused to rule out the possibility of compulsory redundancies and warned that further “substantial savings” will need to be made over the next two years.

In a letter to staff, Harding said: “These cost savings will result in the closure of up to 75 posts across BBC News and the English regions.

“I also need to be clear that this is not the end of the process. Last year there were significant cuts to the BBC World Service. The closure of 75 posts this year is spread across news and English regions.

“I am determined that, where we can, we will avoid compulsory redundancies, but we cannot guarantee that will always be possible.”

Up to 2,000 jobs are under threat at the BBC as a result of the cost-cutting Delivering Quality First (DQF) programme, which aims to cut the broadcaster’s budget by 20 per cent. More than 7,000 jobs have already been lost since 2004 as a result of a freeze on the licence fee until 2017, a deal that was agreed by former secretary general Mark Thompson.

BBC News and Current Affairs employs over 8,000 people and Harding said the department had committed to finding just over £60m in annual savings towards the BBC’s target of £700m savings by 2016/17.

The NUJ's national broadcasting organiser, Sue Harris, said the union would do all it could to stave of forced redundancies and highlighted the continuing pressure on staff.

"We will be working hard to ensure there are no compulsory redundancies and that redeployment arrangements work," said Harris. "However, it those left struggling under ever-increasing workloads that I am concerned about. This salami-slicing year after year is creating departments that are too lean to be effective – quality will suffer and staff will be put under stress."

Harding expects BBC News to save £25m in the current financial year and a further £11m next year, leaving more than £20m still to find.

Harding added: “I recognise that an announcement such as this adds to uncertainty after what has been a trying year. I also appreciate the concern that cost saving come at a time that so many people are working hard to make the most of new technologies and striving to deliver the best journalism in the world.

“The reality is that we have to live within the terms of the licence fee settlement, requiring us to deliver more for less.”

The news comes just a month after the BBC settled a pay dispute with the NUJ, Unite and Bectu, which included in the terms an agreement from the broadcaster to scrap proposed changes to redundancy consultation terms.

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