The BBC has sent letters asking some of its highest-profile news presenters to consider voluntary redundancy as it looks to cut expenditure in the division.
The Mail on Sunday revealed yesterday that BBC interim managing editor of news and current affairs, Philippa Busby, sent a letter, seen by the Mail, to all of its senior TV and radio news presenters – including Huw Edwards, Clive Myrie, Reeta Chakrabarti and Sophie Raworth – at the beginning of April.
The letter said: “As you will be aware, in 2022 we announced a number of changes across BBC News which have meant that some colleagues have been placed at risk of redundancy, including some colleagues in presenter roles.”
The letter went on to ask staff who would like to consider voluntary redundancy to arrange a meeting with senior HR exec Tim Burden by April 7 to register their interest.
A source told the Mail that the letters had been “addressed to all senior news presenters and presenters on the band immediately below.”
The BBC appeared to confirm the letter’s existence in a statement, however it was keen to emphasise that the cuts were part of a “standard HR exercise” and did not signal any new job cuts. The statement read: “This isn’t about any new job cuts. It’s a standard HR exercise relating to savings we’ve announced previously and it’s not targeting any individuals. We have to send it to everyone who’s at the same grade.
“We’re looking for expressions of interest in redundancy, not offering it, and it’s not the case that any or everyone who came forward would be accepted.”
BBC News big hitter Huw Edwards appeared to confirm the BBC’s claims in a “reality check” that was retweeted by numerous BBC journalists including fellow BBC News big name and York St John University chancellor Chakrabarti:
Reality check. A standard HR exercise by @BBCNews (one of many over the years) is just that. A standard invitation to consider applying for voluntary redundancy. Nothing more. As my mam says, don’t believe everything in the papers. ————– pic.twitter.com/iahxq6SNip
— ℍ—- ————– (@thehuwedwards) April 16, 2023
The BBC has been seeking to make a number of, frequently controversial, cuts in recent times, in large part thanks to the government’s licence fee freeze. It has previously announced plans to merge its UK and World news channels, and make significant cuts to its local TV and radio output.
It also performed a u-turn last week on proposed cuts to its English orchestras after pressure from musicians, the public and politicians alike, and has reversed its decision to scrap the BBC Singers choir, which would have resulted in the loss of 20 posts.
Other plans on the table include the end of linear broadcast of niche channels including CBBC and BBC 4, increased regionalisation of local radio services and moving more key services, including BBC World Service and Radio 3 and 6, out of the capital.