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Media Blowout: Half of BBC staff face the axe...


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The BBC is planning to axe as many as 50 per cent of jobs across the board, insiders revealed today.

A raft of cuts is being designed to prove the BBC is giving value for money before a review of its 10-year royal charter in 2006.

High-ranking sources say earlier rumours of 6,000 losses from 28,000 staff may turn out to be a wild underestimate.

It has also emerged that Director-General Mark Thompson is planning to announce the cuts in four weeks - at least two weeks earlier than expected. Unions have been told to set aside two dates, 6 December and 9 December, to meet management.

The new dates will fuel speculation of unprecedented job cuts that bosses want to announce as far from Christmas as they can. A source said: "They know if they wait another week or two it's going into the Christmas period."

Mr Thompson is expected to reveal the results of four wideranging reviews he launched on his first day in the job in June.

It was thought he would report on three - commercial activities, moving staff to the regions and general cost-cutting - this year. The fourth study, into production and commissioning, was seen as the most complex and unlikely to be complete until the New Year.

But sources told the Standard today they expected him to make all the announcements in one go.

Job losses would then increase dramatically, especially if the BBC chooses to pre-empt government proposals that independent companies should produce half of all programmes - not a quarter as now.

"That would have impact on a huge number of BBC staff," said

Luke Crawley, an official for broadcasting union Bectu.

Meanwhile, BBC News and Current Affairs is expected to lose at least 30 per cent of its personnel.

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