Magazine jobs to go as BBC confirms takeover of Origin

BBC Magazines has confirmed there will be redundancies following its takeover of Bristol-based Origin Publishing.

The deal includes an arrangement to move BBC Wildlife, BBC History and BBC Music magazines to Origin’s headquarters, as predicted in Press Gazette (20 February).

Staff were this week told of the move – scheduled for 1 April – and are currently in a period of consultation. BBC Wildlife Magazine is already based in Bristol, at the BBC TV Centre, but there will be a big upheaval for staff on BBC Music and BBC History, as they are based in London.

Origin publishes 12 specialist titles including Living History, a rival to BBC History. Sources believe a merger is on the cards and claim Origin is unlikely to want to publish both Living History and BBC History as standalone titles. There are also concerns for BBC Music Magazine. Some fear it is in danger of losing valuable contacts with BBC orchestras and the Proms.

All three titles are greatly respected in their fields and there are worries they could lose their editorial integrity and contacts in the shake-up.

A BBC spokesman said Origin was still establishing the exact structure for the magazines. He added: “There is going to be a restructure of the magazines, which clearly means there will be some changes and we are hopeful some staff will move across. At the moment it is too early to know how staff numbers will be affected but there may well be some redundancies.” He said the corporation would try to offer alternative positions to staff in London where possible.

BBC Magazines said the move was part of its strategy to grow through launches and acquisitions.

BBC Magazines managing director Peter Phippen said it would give the corporation “a powerful base” from which to publish BBC Wildlife, Music and History, and plan launches in specialist markets.

BBC History, Wildlife and Music magazines will be able to use Origin’s resources and specialist distribution channels which, according to sources, will also allow the BBC to cut costs in London.

The magazines have battled to show real signs of growth in recent years, unlike BBC titles such as women’s glossy Eve, which has been given a big marketing budget BBC Magazines has grown by more than 50 staff in the past year as a result of launching five consumer titles. It also acquired Parentwise magazine, which was relaunched as BBC Parenting Magazine.

Chief executive Kevin Cox, who founded Origin seven years ago, will stay with the copmany, which will be managed as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Origin also publishes Your Hair, Focus and contract magazines for Waterstone’s and HMV.

By Ruth Addicott

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