BBC launches cut-back core news service

As the Coronavirus crisis deepens, the BBC emergency news service will see big changes to TV and radio schedules.

The new core news service means a premature end to Victoria Derbyshire and no Politics Live on BBC Two, with programmes replaced by rolling news from the BBC News Channel.

The BBC is aiming to refocus resources on the Coronavirus coverage, while making sure staff are safe and ensuring that there's enough staff to cover news output, as numbers of individuals and households self-isolating increases.

There will also be fewer branded programmes on BBC World News, on favour of generic branded rolling news.

Newsnight and The Andrew Marr Show will remain on air but will be operated by fewer technical staff; while The Andrew Neil Show, Newswatch and The Travel Show will be suspended. HARDtalk will also be suspended from next week.

Question Time will be broadcast at 8pm every Thursday without a studio audience for a period. From next Thursday it will be broadcast from a fixed location each week.

On the radio, news summaries on BBC Radio 2, 3, 4 and 5 live will be brought together into a single output from 1am on Friday, with 6 Music using the same script. There will be shared production and output on Asian Network and Newsbeat from tomorrow. The Week In Westminster on Radio 4 (Saturday mornings) will be suspended after 21st March.

Explaining the changes, the BBC's Fran Unsworth said:
“Like many organisations we are unable to have all our staff on site due to the Coronavirus outbreak. We are therefore making some changes to what we do to streamline our output to ensure we can work with fewer people and protect the staff who are at work.”

Some changes have been made already to protect staff: regional show East Midlands Today has already gone down to one presenter in a move explained to viewers by Anne Davis, who will now take turns with co-presenter Dominic Heale on different days. The presenters of Spotlight in the South West are also to alternate presenting duties.

With the BBC eager to make further cuts to BBC News, it will be interesting to see how many of these changes might end up becoming permanent in the long run...