BBC World Service to lose 650 jobs, 30 million listeners following cuts

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LONDON - The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has announced cuts in its World Service program that could see the loss of 650 jobs and at least 30 million listeners.

Peter Horrocks, the BBC’s global news director responsible for implementing the cuts, said they risked damaging the World Service’s reputation and the positive benefits it brought to Britain.

Horrocks said: “We made that case to ministers. We explained in great detail the impact of the decision.”

Politicians from all sides condemned the cutbacks and trade union officials said they would ballot for strike action if the job losses involved compulsory redundancies, while also criticizing BBC management for not fighting harder to protect the World Service from government cuts.

The BBC is being forced to implement the cuts after the World Service’s funding from the Foreign Office was reduced by 16 percent in the government’s comprehensive spending review in October.

From 2014 the World Service is to be paid for from the licence fee, rather than by direct Foreign Office grant, and the BBC has said it intends to reverse some of the cuts from that point.

Programmes to be axed from the World Service’s main English language radio station include Something Understood, Europe Today, World Of Music, Letter From, and Crossing Continents.

The English language service will have a new schedule focusing on news output, with four daily programmes including BBC World Today and BBC World Have Your Say and a new morning show for Africa.

World Service radio broadcasts to western Europe - including south-east England - Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union, Turkey, India and China will be among the casualties.

Foreign language broadcasting to Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, the Caribbean and in Portuguese for Africa are also closing. Shortwave broadcasts in Hindi, Mandarin and Swahili will cease.

Horrocks, briefing staff about the cuts, described it as an “enormous shift” for the World Service, with more than 25 percent of its employees facing losing their jobs and 480 posts to go over the next 12 months. (ANI)

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