BBC to axe 450 jobs as part of plans to 'modernise' newsroom

·Freelance Writer
·4-min read
Around 450 staff are to lose their jobs at the BBC (PA)
The BBC said it 'has to face up to the changing way audiences are using us' (PA)

The BBC has announced estimated 450 job losses as part of a drive to “modernise” their newsroom.

While plans to axe Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC Two programme had already been leaked, the corporation said it also wanted to "reduce duplication" while making savings of £80 million.

It said there will be a review of "the number of presenters we have and how they work".

Flagship shows like Newsnight, which recently made headlines with its interview with the Duke Of York, will produce less film, resulting in job losses.

There will also "be post closures at Radio 5Live driven by the changing listening habits of the audience and demand for digital content".

In addition, World Update on World Service English will be closed.

Plans to axe the Victoria Derbyshire show had already been leaked (PA)
Plans to axe the Victoria Derbyshire show had already been leaked (PA)

The announcement comes as outgoing BBC boss Lord Hall said political journalism must move away from “catch out” interviews to stop a toxic discourse.

The changes mean there will be "a reduction in the overall number of stories covered" and "there will be further investment in digital news".

More of the corporation's journalists will be based outside London.

Fran Unsworth, director of news and current affairs, said: "The BBC has to face up to the changing way audiences are using us. We have to adapt and ensure we continue to be the world's most trusted news organisation, but, crucially, one which is also relevant for the people we are not currently reaching.

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"We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money. We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital.

"Our duty as a publicly-funded broadcaster is to inform, educate and entertain every citizen. But there are many people in this country that we are not serving well enough.

"I believe that we have a vital role to play locally, nationally and internationally. In fact, we are fundamental to contributing to a healthy democracy in the UK and around the world. If we adapt, we can continue to be the most important news organisation in the world."

But the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary Michelle Stanistreet described the BBC cuts as "damaging" and “politically motivated”.

Ms Stanistreet said in a statement: "These damaging cuts are part of an existential threat to the BBC and a direct consequence of the last disastrous, secret licence fee deal the BBC agreed with the government. This is before the impact of taking over responsibility for the over-75s licences kicks in.

Undated BBC handout photo showing the Duke of York , speaking for the first time about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis.
Newsnight, that recently made headlines with its Prince Andrew interview, will be affected by the cuts (BBC)

"Against this backdrop, the BBC's very existence is being threatened with public service broadcasting under unprecedented threat.

"If the government goes ahead and decriminalises non-payment of the licence fee, we know the impact will be further losses for the BBC of around £200 million a year and increased collection costs of £45 million.

"Such a politically-motivated move - dressed up as concern for the mythical imprisonment of vulnerable members of society - will serve to undermine one of the UK's strongest success stories, emasculating a brand renowned and respected across the globe."

BBC News has to save £80 million as part of financial pressures on the corporation, including paying for free TV licences for over-75s on pension credit.

The cuts come amid payouts to some female staff, with radio presenter Sarah Montague getting a £400,000 settlement and Samira Ahmed winning an employment tribunal in a dispute over equal pay.

BBC headquarters, BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, England, United Kingdom. The main building was refurbished, withradio stations BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and the BBC World Service transferred to refurbished studios within the building. The extension links the old building and includes a new combined newsroom for BBC News, with studios for the BBC News channel, BBC World News and other news programming. The move of news operations from BBC Television Centre was completed in March 2013. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)
BBC News has to save £80 million as part of financial pressures on the corporation (Getty)

Bectu national secretary Noel McClean said: "It would be easy to point the finger at BBC management, and we will absolutely hold them to account, but Bectu knows that the reality is much more complicated and that Government policy (including decisions around free licences for over 75s) has led to the pressures that impact our members and audiences.

"Bectu will be doing everything it can to minimise the impact of today's announcement. We have already met with the BBC to start consultation about their proposals and timescales about how staff can be deployed to other areas rather than losing their jobs.

"The unprecedented constraints faced by the BBC will leave our members under even more pressure to deliver the output and service that has made this essential public service the envy of the international broadcasting community and risks its future viability."

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