BBC confirms News cutbacks

The BBC has confirmed details of how it will continue to reduce costs in its news division and how it will affect the service offered to viewers and listeners.

According to the announcement, 450 jobs will be cut, with more journalists to be based outside of London, as the BBC newsroom is reorganised along a ‘story-led’ model, focusing on news stories more than on programmes or platforms.

The move is designed to stop staff working on different programmes potentially duplicating work. The overall number of stories covered by BBC News will be cut, but outlets including the BBC News channel will be retained, as it is using and creating content that can be used by the rest of BBC News.

There will be further investment in digital news, with a new version of the BBC News app, which will be more intuitive, more visual, and with increased personalisation.

The cuts are needed as the BBC tightens its belt to afford the cost of delivering free TV licences to over 75s with Pension Credit. The BBC has so far resisted to take on the cost for other over 75s as it would force more cutbacks.

The BBC, as public service broadcaster, is required to maintaining its news provision on a variety of platforms, which adds to its operating costs. Earlier today, it confirmed that the BBC Red Button digital text service, which provides access to BBC News and BBC Sport news articles on TVs, would be kept on-air for the benefit of elderly and disabled viewers unable to access the internet for news.

The main changes are:
  • The Victoria Derbyshire programme on television will close later this year. 
  • There will be a reduction in the number of films produced by Newsnight, which will lead to post closures. The programme itself will stay at the same length.
  • Jobs will be cut at BBC Radio 5 live - the BBC says this will be "driven by the changing listening habits of the audience and demand for digital content."
  • World Update on World Service English will be closed, alongside other schedule changes. This is in addition to the changes to Asian language services outlined last year
  • There will be a review of the number of presenters the BBC has and how they work. It's expected more of them will be expected to present across BBC outlets.

The closure of the Victoria Derbyshire programme was first leaked by The Times last week. Despite reaching the type of audience who wouldn't normally watch BBC News, viewing figures for the five year old show remained relatively small. It was confirmed that the type of news stories previously produced for the programme would still be made for digital platforms, to be shared across BBC News.

  • The programme was originally created in 2015 as part of an earlier round of cuts, which saw BBC Two and the BBC News channel coming together for several hours each morning.

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. 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.”