I’ve been mulling over an article from the Sunday Times for more than a week now, and I still don’t know what to make of it. It’s a report of an interview with Zarin Patel, the BBC’s director of finance, which says:
“Patel will also examine the future of BBC’s research and innovation centre, which could be commercialised. The division helped to develop industry standards such as high definition television and Nicam digital stereo. It has an annual budget of £30m.”
The BBC’s Research and Innovation department is where I work. It used to be the engineering R&D department, but has been renamed several times in the last couple of years. It’s been continually reorganised as well, with a steady loss of staff. We’re due to relocate from Kingswood Warren to west London this year, which will mean a further loss of staff. Now it looks as if the woman who controls the purse strings wants to sell us off.
Ashley Highfield, head of Future Media & Technology, sent out an email saying “nothing to worry about” soon after the Sunday Times article hit the streets, but neither he nor Patel has issued any public retraction of the story. Highfield’s email makes it clear they will be looking for “partnerships” to get best value. A few years ago BBC Technology was sold, lock, stock & barrel, to Siemens. They are now described as “partners”.
The last thing I want is to be TUPE’d to another employer in two or three years time. I’m prepared to put up with the relocation to west London, as I plan to take early retirement in 2014 and so will only have to tolerate the stress of commuting for five or six years. However, if my early retirement plans are to be blown to bits by being transferred out of the BBC to an employer not of my choosing, shouldn’t I just go to another employer now?