Examination of Witnesses (Questions 920
TUESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2005
29 NOVEMBER 2005Mr
Richard Sambrook and Mr Nigel Chapman
Q920 Lord Bishop of Manchester:
If we can go back to the question of staffing changes which will
arise from the kind of cuts that you were talking about earlier
on, we know that 230 posts will close, up to 130 of them in the
United Kingdom. You said that nobody will be made redundant until
early December. We are a few days away from early December
Mr Chapman: December 2006.
Q921 Lord Bishop of Manchester:
Right. How many, do you know, at this stage, are likely to be
Mr Chapman: It would be too early to say because
we are still in discussions with staff here in the United Kingdom
about alternative opportunities. However, I have to be a realist;
this is in a climate where in terms of the BBC's overall position
there are significant job losses going on in the BBC; some of
those are related to journalism and so the possibility that you
can create 120 new suitable jobs for staff in some of those European
services and they can transfer across to do that, I think, would
be unrealistic. In addition, quite a lot will want to take the
opportunity to leave because the provisions in terms of redundancy
pay and other parts of the settlement are, in fact, very generous
by industry standards, so they may well want to use that opportunity
and that money to do other businesses and go into other things.
So it would not be sensible, in some cases, to even project that
you would be able to find jobs for all those people.
Q922 Lord Bishop of Manchester:
The purpose of my question was really to inquire about the morale
of the World Service in the light of all these changes.
Mr Chapman: I will be frank with you; it is
a mixed story. I think staff are relieved, after a long period
of waiting, that there is a clear strategy; they see a journey
to 2010, they see some pretty expensive and important new investments
around not just television but, also, new media, better studios
for radio and improved marketing. So, if you like, those that
are staying behind, which is the vast majority of the staff (remember,
there are still going to be 32 language services left after these
changes) are feeling: "Well, we have got the story now; we
know what the Director wants to do, we know what he can afford
to fund, and we are going on a journey which is quite an exciting
journey." For some of them there is new investment coming.
Obviously, for those where the services are facing closure, and
they will realistically close their broadcasting in the next few
weeks and months, that is a very sad timeI accept that.
It is a sad time, it is a difficult time but we are doing everything
we can to mitigate that, and I think the mood is more sadness
than anger, if I can put it like that. I think people understand
the rationale for it; it has been talked about. Closing some of
these services has been on the World Service agenda, on and off,
for some 10 years. It is not new in that respect. Some of them,
I think, have had that possibility hanging over them for that
period of time and in some cases there is a sense of relief, actually,
that "at least we now know what is happening to us, we know
what you want to do and we know you will compensate us properly
for the loss of the job, loss of office and loss of opportunity".
The BBC World Service will abide by the agreements the BBC has
made, if you like, nationally with the unions through the changes
that Mark Thompson announced earlier last year. So I think that
is the context, but I accept it is not an easy situation.
Q923 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Thank you very much. Are there any other questions that Members
of the panel would like to ask? I think we can say thank you very
much. You have given up a lot of your time and we are very grateful
for that. If we have any further queries, if we may, we will write
to you about those. Thank you very much indeed.
Mr Chapman: Thank you.