The proposed cuts focus on in-house programme-makers as the broadcaster pushes through with the commercialisation of its production division, BBC Studios.

The restructure follows an agreed decision in the draft Royal Charter, which will allow the majority of the BBC’s in-house productions to be put to tender with the independent  sector. The Royal Charter comes into effect from 1 January 2017.

According to The Guardian, the move is one of the biggest changes to the BBC in its 93-year history and will result in flagship shows, across all genres, being lost to the commercial sector – albeit the BBC keeping intellectual property rights.

The reasons for the 300 redundancies following the restructure are two-fold. Firstly, due to the competitiveness of independent programme-makers as the sector is commercialised and secondly, as a result of an efficiency drive brought about by the Royal Charter.

Since the announcement of the Royal Charter the BBC has been under pressure to find £800million in savings per year, partly as a response to changes that allow free TV licenses to those over the age of 75.

Staffing accounts for a quarter of the BBC’s costs

According to a BBC statement staffing accounts for a quarter of its costs and the restructuring should be seen as a way to make the organisation “simpler, leaner and more adaptable to meet the challenges of the future” and ensure quality for the public.

There have also been strong criticisms of the move. Speaking to the Financial Times the BBC’s former COO, Caroline Thompson, said that the corporation was at risk of losing its identity: “If the production arm is at arm’s length and something that could ultimately be privatised, then you have to ask what is the BBC at that point”.

BECTU, the largest trade union within the BBC, has expressed deep concern that redundancies could lead to more cuts, a too greater loss in creative talent and have a negative effect on the corporation’s public service remit by relying on commercial players.

However, the Director of BBC Studios Mark Linsey, said in a press release: “A strong, creative and competitive BBC Studios is crucial to maintaining the BBC’s role as one of the world’s great programme makers – and we are committed to delivering the best content in all our genres. These plans will ensure we can compete successfully in the future.”

The BBC and BECTU will discuss the proposed redundancies in a series of consultation meetings starting on 24 October.

Header image: Tim Loudon/Creative Commons