- BBC unveils plans to “modernise” news operations
- 450 roles to be scrapped by 2020, with overhaul of news output
- BBC says it will focus on “story-led” news instead of platforms and programmes
The BBC has announced plans to cut around 450 jobs from its news arm as part of a modernisation plan aimed at saving around £80 million by 2022.
Last week, the BBC confirmed plans to axe the Victoria Derbyshire Show later this year following a report in The Times newspaper.
BBC News employs around 6,000 people including around 1,700 outside of the UK. In 2016, the Corporation announced that BBC News would need to find £80 million of cuts over the next four years.
BBC director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth explained that the BBC needs to adapt due to the changing way audiences consume its services.
“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.”
In its announcement, the BBC said it will move to a more “story-led” model of news, focussing on the content of news stories over programmes or platforms, in order to reduce duplication.
This will include job cuts of around 450 roles, with more journalists to be based outside of London in the future. It will also lead to an overall reduction in the amount of stories the BBC covers, although the corporation did say it plans to increase investment in digital news.
In its statement, the BBC said it would modernise the BBC News app with the aim of making it more intuitive, more visual and increasing personalisation.
The move was criticised by the National Union of Journalists, a UK-based union that represents members of the press. In a statement, the NUJ claimed the BBC faces an “existential threat” with 500 jobs to be cut across BBC News, radio and World Service in the coming years.
Following the 70 jobs losses at the World Service, announced at Christmas, a further 380 will go from News. In addition, there will be around 60 positions cut at Network Radio.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet blamed the cuts on the BBC’s licence deal struck with the government in 2015. The same deal has received widespread criticism for the decision to axe free TV licences for the over-75s.
“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 £200m a year and increased collection costs of £45m.
”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.”
Stanistreet challenged the next director general of the BBC, who will replace Tony Hall who is due to step down in the summer, to act as a “champion for the corporation”, adding they need to be “someone capable of fighting for this broadcasting powerhouse, someone able to stand up against any future political interference.
“The corporation faces a truly tough time. The NUJ will do all it can to defend public service broadcasting and protect our members’ jobs from these politically-motivated attacks.”