BBC set to slash senior comms staff as cuts begin to bite

The BBC is to abolish six senior comms roles including head of digital comms, as part of a programme to make swingeing cuts of 25 per cent.

BBC: Comms function needs to cut 25 per cent
BBC: Comms function needs to cut 25 per cent

BBC digital comms chief Paul Almond is being made redundant and will leave in July to 'look for further opportunities in the digital area'. Once he has departed, the BBC will not be seeking a replacement.

In addition, five strategic comms roles have been eliminated. The most senior of these is held by head of strategic comms Ben Wilson.

The cuts follow the news that the BBC's longstanding chief spokesman Donald Steel is to leave the broadcaster after 22 years to launch a PR offering, and will not be replaced.

Director of comms Ed Williams said: 'We have a financial mountain to climb and as such we will not be able to find this level of savings without cutting headcount.'

The BBC comms overhaul is expected to bite even harder in coming months, as this initial round of cuts has amounted to savings of 15 per cent. The BBC's comms department is now embarking on a six-week consultation to decide how to make further cuts of ten per cent.

Williams added that the 25 per cent challenge was made 'even harder' because the BBC outsources so little.

He plans to find significant savings between now and March 2013 by 'reducing project spend, working more efficiently and cutting supplier costs'.

The BBC currently has around 160 comms staff in total. Following last year's review in March, all staff are based in one division, reporting directly to Williams.

The BBC must shave 25 per cent of the operations budget, which includes comms.

The news comes as PR agency bosses report an increasing trend of senior BBC figures flocking to the industry.

COMMS BUDGET

The BBC's total budget for comms is spread across:
- Programme publicity for television
- Radio
- Journalism
- Opinion former comms and public affairs
- Corporate comms and the press office
- Internal comms
- Digital comms

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