140 journalists face the axe at BBC news

The BBC has announced that 140 journalists are being cut.

This is the first round of cuts announced at BBC News as part of the Delivering Quality First programme and more are expected as the five-year plan is rolled out.

According to the NUJ today’s journalism cuts include:

  • Three Newsnight reporters, three Radio 4 news reporters and 17 posts across Radio 1 and 1Xtra news services
  • 28 posts in the Newsroom, including nine studio staff. The News Channel will lose a presenter, the Radio Newsroom two senior broadcast journalists, with six posts to go in online
  • Editions are being cut from Radio 4’s Law in Action, and The Report, while Beyond Westminster and Taking a Stand will come to an end
  • The axing of 31 posts in national TV current affairs has already been announced and as a result there will be no current affairs programmes on BBC 4. There will be a cut of about nine hours per year of ad hoc current affairs series on BBC2
  • The BBC plans to halve its spending on party conferences and dramatically reduce programme presentation from them. Six jobs will go at Millbank, including four posts in Live Political Programmes
  • International news coverage will be affected with a number of reporter posts around the world to go. Some will be replaced with locally recruited staff on local terms and conditions.

As part of the DQF cuts announced last year the corporation said it was cutting 2,000 jobs overall including around 500 in news over the next five years. This from a total pool of around 8,000 journalists.

The BBC will being consulting with the the unions next week. In an email to staff today director of News Helen Boaden said: “I don’t pretend that these changes will be easy or painless for individuals or teams. As we have always done, we will work extremely hard to avoid any compulsory redundancies though as the BBC gets smaller, we cannot guarantee complete success in this area.

“As public service broadcasters we know that we have to make these changes in a way which preserves our reputation, our values and our unique relationship of trust with our audiences. That’s a great responsibility but also a great privilege. And even though we need to make savings of nearly £70 million by 2016/17, it’s important to remember that we still have around £400 million pounds a year to spend on the best journalism in the world.”

NUJ broadcasting organiser Sue Harris said: ‘This is the first announcement of more cuts to come. This will have a serious impact on the quality of the service and will leave those left to struggle to fill in for lost posts. In his leaving letter, Mark Thompson had the nerve to say that ‘the BBC I will be leaving is so much stronger than the BBC I inherited back in 2004’. I beg to differ and we will be hoping to re-open talks with his successor to save the corporation from his potentially devastating legacy.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘Mark Thompson’s shabby, behind-closed doors deal with the government is the direct cause of these job cuts. His decision to agree to freeze the licence fee until 2017 means that the corporation faces these cuts as well as taking on an extra £340 million in new financial responsibilities, such as the World Service and the roll out of fast broadband.

‘The top quality journalism we expect from the BBC is under severe threat. There will be fewer original news packages and more repeats.

‘The NUJ is calling on Thompson’s successor to revisit this deal. Why should the BBC be making cuts to its vital news service to fund £150 million a year for broadband roll out and a further £25m investment in a new local TV service that nobody wants? Licence payers are now also expected to fund the World Service, Welsh service S4C and BBC Monitoring. When times are tough, the money should be used to protect creative content and quality news journalism.”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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