BBC Studios has been evaluating its next steps after new plans emerged that would remove assurances that 50% of all BBC programmes are made in-house, with the unit set to become a commercial enterprise next year.
Meanwhile, the wider BBC business is still faced with government pressure to make major cost savings.
Therefore, BBC Studios will “move further towards a flexible model, more in line with the wider industry”, which will mean in many cases staffing up programmes for fixed production periods.
In effect, this means around 300 staff members will lose their jobs, with the changes impacting “almost all” BBC bases, though they will all remain open. England will bare the brunt. The BBC says the financial challenges it is facing means “restructuring would need to happen irrespective of BBC Studios becoming a commercial subsidiary next year”.
The BBC has already saved £1.6 billion (€1.8 billion), but says staffing still remains too costly, accounting for around a quarter of all expenditure.
This comes after a major restructuring in July, which saw Anne Bulford become deputy director general, Charlotte Moore promoted to director of content and sport and overall senior management numbers reduced.
That restructure came after a series of changes at BBC Studios, the most notable of which came when launch director Peter Salmon jumped ship before the company’s official debut to become chief creative officer of Endemol Shine Group.
Mark Linsey replaced Salmon and went on to change the structure of the operation under three verticals – scripted, factual, and entertainment, music and events.
Linsey said today of the latest changes: “A strong, creative and competitive BBC Studios is crucial to maintaining the BBC’s role as one of the world’s great programme makers – and we are committed to delivering the best content in all our genres. These plans will ensure we can compete successfully in the future.”
The BBC’s controlling body, the BBC Trust, has not yet greenlit the plan to take BBC Studios commercial, but is widely expected to do so. After gaining approval, it will become a wholly-owned, but structurally-separate BBC business that produces for the pubcaster and other channels.
BBC Studios produces shows such as Top Gear, Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who.