BBC poised to ax 12% of its workforce


LONDON -- Speculation that the U.K. pubcaster BBC plans to shed 12% of its staffers amid anticipated budget cuts hit the headlines here Tuesday .

Newspaper speculation carried news of sizable job cuts of up to 2,800 at the U.K. pubcaster BBC, kickstarted by a banner story in the Financial Times predicting the 12% workforce cut with more than 2,000 jobs poised to go.

For its part, a BBC press spokesperson played down the reports, saying it was all speculation and there would be no official line coming out of the network until the BBC board met with the BBC Trust "sometime next week."

Insiders said the job cuts would inevitably "be sizable" as BBC director general Mark Thompson juggles his budgets to try and make up a £2 billion ($4 billion) shortfall at the pubcaster.

Thompson and his board are due to meet with the BBC Trust with his recommendations for cost-cutting measures across the organization Oct. 17 before telling the staff the following day, insiders said.

The Financial Times report said senior staff members had been told redundancies will top the 2,000 mark, with one person "familiar with the situation" saying it could be closer to 3,000.

The Guardian followed up the report with its own prediction that many of the job losses would come from the Beeb's factual output strands. It also noted that should the cuts take place on such a grand scale, a strike was almost inevitable at the pubcaster.

The news of job losses comes hot-on-the-heels of a string of scandals over faked telephone competitions and the departure last week of BBC1 controller Peter Fincham, the latest high-profile head to roll over the publication of a damning report of re-edited footage of the Queen was shown to journalists and international buyers.

The BBC1 documentary, "A Year With the Queen," was produced by RDF Media and was due to go on air next year. The footage was shown to reporters as part of the BBC1 season review on July 11.