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Broadcasting unions blame government for BBC cuts

NUJ, Bectu fear existential threat to the BBC

The UK’s broadcasting unions have criticised the government over yesterday’s announcement of job cuts at BBC News, as part of the broadcaster’s plans to save £80 million by 2022.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have described the cutbacks, which include 450 redundancies at Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live, the World Service and The Victoria Derbyshire Show, as “part of an existential threat to the BBC.”

“The BBC’s very existence is being threatened with public service broadcasting under unprecedented threat,” said NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet. “If the government goes ahead and decriminalises non-payment of the licence fee, we know the impact will be further losses for the BBC of around £200 million a year and increased collection costs of £45 million.

“Such a politically motivated move – dressed up as concern for the mythical imprisonment of vulnerable members of society – will serve to undermine one of the UK’s strongest success stories, emasculating a brand renowned and respected across the globe.”

Meanwhile the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu) blamed “government policy, including decisions around free licences for over 75s, rather than poor management” for the staff cuts.

“The redundancies announced today in BBC News and radio production show the difficult savings decisions the BBC is being forced to make because of continued budget constraints,” said Bectu national secretary Noel McClean.

“The unprecedented constraints faced by the BBC will leave our members under even more pressure to deliver the output and service that has made this essential public service the envy of the international broadcasting community and risks its future viability,” he added.