Save the Met Office's BBC contract


Prospect urges government intervention to save Met Office contract with BBC

The BBC’s decision to exclude the Met Office from tendering for its weather forecasting services is yet another example of cost-cutting coming before service, said Prospect, the union representing 1,000 scientists and other specialists at the organisation.

The union’s deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh said: “The BBC has said it is ‘legally required’ to secure the best value for money for licence fee payers. But value for money shouldn’t mean doing things on the cheap.

“The public wants authoritative, reliable, accurate and innovative forecasts – and the Met Office has delivered that in partnership with the public service broadcaster consistently since 1922.

“The Met Office re-won the contract five years ago because of its ability and commitment to deliver a high-quality service through accuracy, consistency of data and flexilibity.

“It seems odd that in the BBC’s eyes, it has gone from being the best forecaster in the world last time the contract was tendered to not good enough this time round. The BBC and Met Office have both benefited from this relationship over the years; both are trusted brands and each strengthens the national standing of the other.

“This is yet another example of public sector experts bearing the brunt of austerity, in the interests of short-term money saving. It shows blatant disregard for decades of expertise and specialist scientific knowledge provided by the Met Office staff to deliver the accurate weather forecasts that so many businesses and people rely on.

“Everyone cares about the weather and once the public realises what’s going on, there will be an outcry. We urge the government to intervene before it’s too late.”

About 50 Met Office staff, including those who deliver the forecasts for the BBC, will be affected. Tony Bell, Prospect national secretary, said: “Prospect welcomes the Met Office commitment to support affected staff to achieve ‘clarity’ on their future. We will do all in our power to defend the jobs and futures of the individuals affected, whether that involves new roles within the Met Office or transferring to any new provider.”

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