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BBC axes 1,000 jobs as rise of iPlayer leaves £150m licence fee deficit

The BBC has been forced to axe more than 1,000 roles in a move to streamline the organisation.

In a letter today (2 July), director general Tony Hall blamed the rise in people using catch-up services for the £150m shortfall in expected income from the licence free.

It will look to claw back £50m in savings from merging divisions, cutting down management layers, reducing managers and improving processes.

“Despite the progress already made, and the realities of the licence fee being frozen for seven years, a new financial challenge means additional savings must now be found,” said Hall.

Earlier this year, The Drum reported that around 1,000 households a day are claiming they no longer have a television, which could exempt them from a paying the BBC TV licence fee if they do not watch live broadcasts from their mobile devices.

The most recent figures from the Broadcaster’ Audience Research Board revealed that in the 15 months up to the end of 2014, an additional 500,000 said they did not have a television.

Hall said this latest cull of staff is “further evidence of the need for the licence fee to be modernised to cover digital services.”

In lieu of a modernised system of delivering revenue, this cut marks the next stage in Tony Hall’s plan to remodel the BBC.

Moving forward, there will be a convergence of the technology teams across the broadcaster's digital, engineering and Worldwide teams with further changes “also possible”.

Further cuts to the layers of management are also planned. In some places there are currently ten layers of people and management, said Hall, and this will be cut to a maximum of seven in the future.

The marketing and communications teams could also be “simplified” alongside other support areas such as finance, HR, IT support and legal. However, it is not known how many marketing and communications roles have been cut in the latest redundancy round.

The BBC said it will be identifying where the specific savings opportunities are over the next few months, with final decisions expected to be taken in early autumn.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) responded to the cuts, saying a “long look at how the BBC’s structures are efficient and fit for purpose is overdue.”

However, general secretary Michelle Stanistreet added that a review of the licence fee is now critical.

“The looming negotiations on charter renewal will be a critical juncture for the BBC - without a new deal that modernises the licence fee and provides for a real-terms increase the BBC as we know it, a world-respected broadcaster and a key driver of the entire British creative industry, will be unable to function,” she said.

The NUJ, together with the Federation of Entertainment Unions, has launched the "Love it or Lose it" campaign which calls for, among other things, the retention of and an increase in the licence fee.

Meanwhile, Hall claims that it will have made £1.5bn of savings a year by 2017, much of which has been made through staff cuts, reduction in property as well as “tough decisions” on the editorial content such as more daytime repeats and shared sports rights.