Sixty-five posts in BBC Radio are to be axed, as part of the cost cutting measures promised three years ago by former director general Mark Thompson in the Delivering Quality First licence fee settlement. A BBC spokesperson said that under the current proposals ten Radio 3 roles will be lost, ‘predominantly within the areas of management, administration and support’. These will almost certainly require some compulsory redundancies.
BBC Radio was charged with contributing to BBC-wide savings of £800 million a year, a target that currently requires further savings of £38 million to be made across the radio division by 2016/17.
‘We’ve been living in the shadow of these cuts for the past two years,’ a Radio 3 insider told CM, ‘so they hardly come as a shock.’ Further cuts are expected as attempts are made to fill a current £1.5 million pound shortfall in projected savings.
The cuts will not be noticed by listeners, insisted Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio, since no on-air changes are planned. ‘This is a major internal reorganisation,’ she said, ‘in which Radio 3 will retain its own commissioning, scheduling and music functions.’ There will also be more made of collaboration between channels especially with live events. ‘These cuts are essential if BBC Radio is to preserve its distinctiveness,’ she adds.
Currently all the BBC’s radio stations are run separately. The newly announced reorganisation will create two so-called ‘hubs’ providing management, running and support staff, with Radio 3 and the Proms joining with Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra as a speech and classical music hub, and Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Asian Network and 6 Music as a pop music hub. There has already been disquiet voiced that this will help polarise programmes by creating lowbrow and highbrow radio divisions. ‘We are expecting further cuts in the volume of Radio 3’s output but not in its quality,’ said CM’s source.
Fighting the Radio 3 corner against further cuts is going to be one of the first challenges facing the new controller of Radio 3, for which recruitment began in mid-June. The positions of controller Radio 3 and director of the Proms, both currently held by the outgoing Roger Wright, will revert to being separate posts, with the new head of the Proms being appointed and managed by the Radio 3 controller.