A “reality dawn” is coming at the BBC that is likely to lead to job cuts, according to BBC News Interactive head Pete Clifton. Clifton told an Association of Online Publishers conference audience the corporation’s online news staff had already been winning better recognition amongst editorial peers, ahead of a plan to integrate the web newsroom with broadcast personnel, announced last week.
Asked if the online integration was a victory or a necessity brought by the lower-than-expected license fee settlement awarded by the government, Clifton told paidContent:UK: “Of course, there is now another element that nobody can hide from – the license fee renewal was less than expected. Over the coming weeks and months, there will be a reality dawn about only having the money for fewer people.”
Reports last week said the newsroom integration plan comes at the same time as a five percent, five-year budget cut to BBC News. But Clifton added key BBC recommendations from prior to the latest license fee renewal had “both concluded that we couldn’t carry on in this very separate way if we wanted to be a genuine on-demand player – so this had to happen. Regardless of anything else that’s going on, this is absolutely what we should be doing. The longer we maintained this rather strange set of fiefdoms, the more strange our content and the mix of our content would have become.”
Last week’s reports said greater recognition for the BBC’s online editorial staff was sought to combat the newsroom integration plans of newspapers like The Telegraph and Guardian Unlimited, the latter of which is planning to combine its print and web staff at a new HQ next year and the former of which did so last year – both with some opposition from unions over multi-skilling concerns.