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June 5, 2014updated 06 Jun 2014 2:54pm

James Harding warns BBC News staff of ‘a significant number of redundancies’ after reports 500 face axe

By William Turvill

BBC head of news James Harding (pictured, Reuters) has told staff that “a significant number of redundancies” are likely to be made after a report emerged yesterday suggesting up to 500 jobs – around 6 per cent of his division – will be made redundant.

In an email to staff today the former Times editor, who joined the BBC last August, said he would be announcing plans for the future of  BBC News next month.

He reiterated to staff that “tens of millions of pounds” in savings need to be made in the division as part of the Delivering Quality First scheme, which has seen more than 200 BBC News jobs made redundant over the last three years.

He said: “I am afraid that there is no escaping the fact that there are likely to be a significant number of redundancies – most of our costs are tied up in people so there is limited scope for other big savings elsewhere.”

According to the BBC's staff website Ariel he also said: “I do not pretend that the months ahead are going to be easy.

“We have some very difficult decisions to make and no doubt some difficult challenges to face. I will, however, do my very best to keep you informed as we go along.”

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A Forbes report said yesterday that the BBC is to announce up to 600 redundancies in July, including between 475 and 500 in News.

In response, a BBC spokesman said: “We're working at present to deliver savings of £800m a year by 2016/17 and we have said that there are difficult decisions ahead of us. Whilst we need to make savings, it would be wrong to comment on speculation.”

The BBC is said to employ 8,000 staff in BBC News, of which 5,500 are described as journalists.

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