BBC WORKERS and unions and many artists and cultural figures, have condemned the massive cuts announced by BBC Director General Mark Thompson.
The unions warned that action will be taken to defeat the cuts and large numbers of people said that they would support such action.
Thompson announced that he plans £600 million of cuts through the closure of BBC 6 Music, BBC Asian Network, teenage TV Channels Switch and Blast!, as well as halving the size of the BBC’s website, sacking 25 per cent of the website staff and cutting a quarter of their online budget.
He warned Radio 2 that it will be next, saying it must ‘sharpen its distinctiveness’, and he proposed the sharing of programmes in off-peak periods.
The General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Jeremy Dear, said: ‘In confirming these proposals today, Mark Thompson has put BBC management on a collision course – not just with us and the hundreds of BBC staff who face losing their jobs, but with licence fee payers up and down the country.
‘BBC management’s strategy of desperate, hopeful, self-sacrifice is fundamentally flawed.’
He added that ‘their self-harming approach will only encourage commercial media operations to demand more cuts.
‘Public outrage at the proposed cuts has been overwhelming.’
He added: ‘The unions will be meeting with the BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson on Wednesday morning at 11am, where we will make it clear that the proposal to jettison huge amounts of valuable public service output, with hundreds of staff losing their jobs in the process, will be opposed.
‘We cannot stand by and watch staff and outstanding public service content sacrificed to satisfy the demands of Rupert Murdoch and other commercial interests.’
BECTU General Secretary, Gerry Morrissey warned that the cuts mean 600 job losses.
He said: ‘If, at the end of the three-month consultation period these same proposals are rubber-stamped by the BBC Trust, then BECTU will oppose the changes, along with any compulsory redundancies which are tabled, and we will seek the support of our members for industrial action.
‘In the meantime, we will be lobbying hard to reverse the BBC’s stance.’
Comedian Phill Jupitus, who presented the launch Breakfast Show for 6 Music, said he was ‘just gutted’ by the closure proposal.
Superstar David Bowie said: ‘For new artists to lose this station would be a great shame.’
Radio 1 presenter Edith Bowman said fans should make their presence felt: ‘The BBC Trust make the decisions, we can still play a part in saving 6 Music. Don’t let them close it.’
Lauren Laverne, 6 Music presenter said in her broadcast yesterday: ‘This is probably not the easiest of days for us, probably not the easiest day to be on the radio, to be honest with you, especially not this station, which I love with all my heart. So thank you very much for all your kind words.’
Sonia Deol, Asian Network presenter, said: ‘Somebody is asking me on the text: “Aren’t you angry?” Of course I’m angry by the stuff that’s going on in the news, but I absolutely love the BBC Asian Network and Asian audiences and the show is going to carry on.’
Music producer and musician Mark Ronson said he was ‘definitely joining the petition’ to keep 6 Music on air.
However, the Labour and Tory culture spokesmen Ben Bradshaw MP, Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Jeremy Hunt, Conservative Shadow Culture Secretary, both welcomed the planned cuts.