BBC slashing 2,000 jobs amid budget cuts

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The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said Thursday it is to cut around 2,000 jobs as the publicly-funded broadcaster makes savings as part of government efforts to reduce a record deficit.

Director General Mark Thompson told staff that the posts would be axed by 2017 as the BBC must make budget cuts of 20 percent following a freeze in the licence fee, which all Britons with a television must pay.

The cuts were formally announced in BBC's "Delivering Quality First" report, which follows a nine-month consultation with staff on how to save money.

The report said it would involve "the most far-reaching transformation in our history. This involves painful choices for the BBC, including significant job losses at every level of the organisation."

It said there would be an "estimated net loss of around 2,000 posts across the BBC" over the next five years, adding that they would try to avoid forced redundancies.

In a speech to staff, Thompson warned that the BBC -- known around the world for both its news and current affairs output as well as its drama and entertainment programming -- could not maintain its reputation if it had to make any further cuts.

"It's my judgment that this is the last time the BBC will be able to make this level of savings without a substantial loss of services or quality or both," he said.

The BBC currently employs 22,899 people, according to its annual report.

That figure includes those in the World Service, which is funded by the Foreign Office until 2014, and the commercial enterprise BBC Worldwide.

The BBC receives £3.5 billion ($5.4 billion, 4.05 billion euros) a year from the licence fee. In a government spending review last year the licence fee was frozen at £145.50 per household with a television until 2016-17.

The corporation said budgets for Radio 4, its flagship current affairs station, would remain unchanged, while there would be only a three percent reduction in funding for BBC One, the main terrestrial television channel.

But there would be bigger cuts in other departments including 15 percent in sport. The report said a recent decision to share Formula One rights with BSkyB was evidence of the new approach.

© 2011 AFP

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