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BBC shake-up with departures and cuts

Andy Stout 26 January 2011

The BBC is implementing a series of major cuts at its Online and World Service divisions in response to the UK government’s austerity measures and a re-organisation of the Future Media and Technology division, writes Kevin Hilton.

Changes at BBC Future Media and Technology have been brought about by the imminent departure of its director, Eric Huggers. He will leave the BBC at the end of February to join Intel’s Digital Home Group as corporate vice president and general manager.

Huggers joined Future Media and Technology in 2007 and later presided over a number of innovations, including BBC Red Button and BBC Mobile. He was also responsible for the growth of the Corporation’s Online presence but in August last year acknowledged that it had "sprawled", so cuts were necessary. "I believe it’s possible to make the service better with less," he wrote in his blog.

As a result of the strategy document Putting Quality First, BBC Online’s service licence budget will be cut by 25 percent, with the loss of 360 jobs.

Huggers will not be replaced directly. Instead Future Media and Technology will be reorganised from 1st March into two units: chief technology officer John Linwood (pictured) will head up the Technology division, which will handle all the BBC’s digital requirements for production, broadcast, connectivity and supporting enterprise activities; while Ralph Rivera becomes director of Future Media, with responsibility for developing and producing digital products and services. Under the reorganisation BBC R&D will report to Rivera.

The position of the BBC World Service has been uncertain since the coalition government announced that funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office would be reduced in an effort to cut the UK’s budget deficit.

In response to this and to meet a 16 percent savings target, the BBC announced on Tuesday (25th January) that five language services are being closed: Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian, plus the English for Caribbean regional service. Up to 650 jobs will be lost.

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