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BBC World Service plans to cut 73 jobs a ‘terrible assault’, says NUJ

By Press Gazette

The NUJ has called plans to slash 73 jobs at the BBC World Service a “terrible assault on a much-loved institution”.

The latest cutbacks are part of plans to save £42m from the World Service budget by 2013, and will see 25 jobs go on the English-language service, with news coverage reduced from 18 hours to 14 each weekday.

Arts show The Strand will be axed from April next year, while World Briefing will be replaced by a new programme, The Newsroom.

The World Service has already made £30m in savings after its budget was cut by Government in 2010, when it was announced that from 2014 the service would be funded from the licence fee.

In total around 650 jobs are expected to go from the service. As part of the latest plans, the number of documentaries will be reduced from four weekly strands to three, with Your World axed.

A total of 44 jobs will be closed in foreign-language services including BBC Afghan, BBC Burmese, BBC Bengali and in Africa. The BBC also said that posts currently vacant in other foreign services will no longer be filled.

Director of BBC Global News, Peter Horrocks said: "By making these changes, we are achieving the savings required whilst crucially, ensuring our audiences continue to receive the best programming.

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"As we prepare to move to licence fee funding, we will be able to demonstrate that the World Service remains strong despite the funding cuts of recent years, is more efficient than ever, and remains a vital force in today's complex media world."

In response to the cuts, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “These job cuts fly in the face of the new director general's commitment to sustaining quality programming at the BBC.

“The World Service is prized around the world – slashing journalistic jobs and cutting programmes is a terrible assault on a much-loved institution that provides a lifeline to listeners around the world.

"Instead of pressing on with these cuts, George Entwistle should be taking the opportunity to rethink the approach of his predecessor, and seize the chance to push for a renegotiation of the licence fee settlement.

“The deal, clinched behind closed doors in 2010, froze the licence fee and foisted an additional £340million of spending commitments on the BBC, setting the corporation on a path of decline that threatens our world-acclaimed public service broadcaster – it's time for a fresh start and a real commitment to quality programming and journalism.”

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