Fifteen hundred heads are to roll at the BBC's news division and other programme production units within the state-owned corporation, it was revealed Monday.

The latest planned cull follows an announcement last week that 1,730 jobs are to go within non-programming areas of the BBC.

Monday's bombshell revealed that staff within the news, drama, entertainment, factual and learning units are also on the block - as are new media and the TV and radio broadcasting operations.

These departments have been ordered by recently appointed director general Mark Thompson to lop 15% from their overheads by the end of 2008.

Although the BBC will tell unions it aims to achieve the cuts by voluntary redundancies, union officials believe it will be impossible to achieve such a massive headcount reduction without compulsory job losses.

"You can't sack thousands and then ask hard-working staff to take on huge amounts of extra work and still expect to maintain high standards," argues Jeremy Thompson, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists.

The decimation was reportedly approved by the BBC's board of governors at the weekend. Unions warn they will ballot for strike action if compulsory redundancies are imposed.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff