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BBC Plans Massive Cuts

Faced with a freeze in the license fees that finance its operations, the BBC has agreed to wide ranging cuts in its staff and budgets between now and 2017 as part of a larger restructuring of its operations and programming strategy.

In announcing the cuts, which will reduce spending by about 20% and around 2,000 jobs by 2017, the BBC's director general Mark Thompson noted that they would lead to a "smaller, radically reshaped BBC."

Generally the cuts seemed designed to preserve as much of the public broadcasters programming as possible.

The technician's trade union Bectu reacted angrily to the proposals and accused Thompson of "destroying the BBC," the BBC News has reported.

To reduce spending by about ₤670 million ($1 billion) by the year 2017, the BBC will eliminate about 2,000 staff positions, including more than 300 managers, and about 1,000 jobs will be relocated from London to Salford.

It will also revamp its programming, shifting daytime programing from BBC Two to BBC One and impose 15% reduction in spending on sports rights.

News operations will see significant cuts, with an overall reduction of about 550-650 posts, the BBC News is reporting.

The revamped operations will, however, see increased spending for factual programming on BBC One and BBC Four and the extra investment that the BBC had promised to make in children's channels will survive the cuts.

It also plans to invest more money in comedies and drama for the main BBC One channel, though BBC One will see an overall 3% cut in spending.

The cuts are occurring in an overall climate of fiscal austerity in the U.K., where the government is pushing a wide array of cuts in government spending.

The BBC is financed mainly through a license fees on everyone who owns a TV sets, not taxes or direct government funding. Earlier this year, it agreed to freeze the license fees that fund its operations until 2017.