The BBC has cut 129 jobs from its factual and learning division – about 5% of the unit. The three areas affected by the closures are religion and ethics, docs, and arts. The London-based doc department was hardest hit, losing 92 posts. Arts, also in London, counts 16 post closures. Religion and ethics in Manchester eliminated 12 job titles; management support in both London and Birmingham lost nine.
The flurry of pink slips is due in part to over-staffing caused when the factual and learning division was streamlined into two groups (specialist factual and general factual) last May. The promise to shift more production to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to better reflect the U.K.’s diversity means London will handle a lighter slate. Additionally, director of TV Mark Thompson announced last year that the Beeb planned to place less emphasis on high-volume, low-cost factual in favor of event programs with high production values. Although less expensive to produce, low-fare factual is more staff intensive and has less impact with audiences. Overall spending is not affected, as budgets for arts is said to be increasing, and religion and ethics is guaranteed at its current level.