BBC Northern Ireland has announced plans to cut up to 40 jobs as part of an effort to save money and invest in online services.
he’s changed, informed staff on Tuesday, to see the end of BBC Radio Foyle’s Breakfast and Inside Business on Radio Ulster.
The plans were criticized by NUJ and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood, who said it was an attempt to close Radio Foyle “by stealth”.
The group said it is drawing up plans to “facilitate the enhancement of digital video and online services and the savings they will need to make in the coming period”.
It says local investment in BBC iPlayer will be increased, but there will also be production and staff cuts in news, audio and related sectors.
A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC Northern Ireland is proposing to close around 35-40 posts to contribute to a £2.3m savings and reinvestment scheme.
“It is expected that the majority of post closures will be achieved through voluntary redundancy, with some opportunity for redeployment within BBC Northern Ireland.
“Proposals can now consult with employees and unions.
“Several BBC Northern Ireland production will be affected by these plans, including the breakfasttime news program on BBC Radio Foyle and Inside Business on BBC Radio Ulster.
“Attempts have been made to limit the impact of the proposed changes on the scope and benefits of BBC services in Northern Ireland and local staff groups.”
These are challenging times and we are faced with some tough choices, none of which are easy.Adam Smyth, interim director of BBC NI
Adam Smyth, interim director of BBC NI, said: “These are challenging times and we are faced with some difficult choices, none of which are easy.
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“We had to find money to maintain and grow our local presence on BBC iPlayer and to ease cost pressures across different aspects of our work.
“Our interest in all of this is to protect the values and interests of our audiences, while keeping in mind the impact this announcement will have on BBC staff in Northern Ireland.”
The BBC statement said that a number of UK-wide staffing and operations reviews are also underway and that these assessments could affect other local groups and roles next year.
This is an attack on the nature of public service broadcastingSeamus Dooley, NUJ
Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant secretary general, called for an urgent rethink of the plans.
“The decision to end the BBC’s Foyle Breakfast Program and to end regional news coverage is a betrayal of the people of Northern Ireland,” he said.
“This is an attack on the very nature of public broadcasting.
“Radio Foyle is part of the Northwest cultural scene with a wide audience on both sides of the border.
“The reduction of services in Radio Foyle is of particular concern and will be strongly opposed by the NUJ.”
Mr Eastwood told the BBC Nolan Show: “The impact in the northwest will cause this station (Radio Foyle) to close. This will make it unsustainable.
“The top breakfast show is happening. Anyone knows once you remove the top show, you’re essentially closing the station.
“This is an attempt to close Radio Foyle by being invisible.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/bbc-ni-to-cut-up-to-40-jobs-as-part-of-drive-to-save-money-42181755.html BBC NI to cut up to 40 jobs as part of effort to save money