BBC closes Ariel in-house newspaper and makes 42 comms staff redundant

The BBC is making 42 comms staff redundant and is closing the print version of its 75-year-old in-house newspaper, Ariel.

BBC: makes 42 comms staff redundant
BBC: makes 42 comms staff redundant
The news is part of a major restructuring of the BBC’s 191-strong comms unit, following a lengthy consultation process that was launched in July, taken in response to the frozen licence fee settlement.

26 of the 42 comms staff volunteered for redundancy. However, this left a shortfall, and an additional 16 compulsory redundancies were subsequently handed out.

Most of the compulsory redundancies were handed to Ariel staff, and to staff within the BBC’s public affairs department.

BBC acting head of press and media relations Julian Payne said: ‘This has been a very tough process for the comms team to go through. But what we have ended up with is a team that is ready to handle the future comms challenges that the BBC faces.

‘Moving forward we will continue to promote the best TV, radio and online content the BBC has to offer while at the same time ensuring we can provide world class reputation management on the many corporate issues that we face.’

Launched in 1936, Ariel is a long-established part of the BBC’s internal comms. The weekly publication currently distributed free to 25,000 UK-based BBC staff will continue to exist online. The corporation expects to make a net saving of £200,000 by closing the magazine.

However, the comms restructuring will also see the creation of ten posts.

This includes staff to join a newly developed briefing unit, which is being created to pull together research for speeches, information for media briefings, Q&A documents, press releases and annual reports.

The BBC is also developing a number of regional posts in corporate and public affairs, who will handle regional stakeholder activities.

The restructure will also lead to the development of a new corporate publicity department located in White City, which will house the public affairs team and the new briefing unit, along with internal comms and the corporate press office.

The changes will see the BBC’s comms operation reduce from 191 to 143 jobs, including a number of posts that have already been frozen.

The restructure has been led by director of comms Paul Mylrea.

The redundancies will start to take effect immediately and they will be completed by next spring.

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