London: The BBC World
Service is to cut about a quarter of its workforce and slash
online services as a result of government funding cuts, the
broadcaster said Wednesday.
Managers said that 650 out of a total of 2,400 jobs would be axed
over the next two years to make annual savings of 46 million
pounds ($73 million) by 2014.
As a result, the World Service is to close five of its language
services - Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and
Serbian, as well as the English for the Caribbean regional
Those measures will reduce the current global audience of the BBC
World Service by 30 million from its current level of 180 million.
Analysts said it would mean that, for the first time, BBC global
listening figures would fall behind those of US rival Voice of
America (VOA) around the world.
The language service closures were not a reflection of the
performance of individual services and programmes, BBC global news
director Peter Horrocks said.
"But we need to focus our efforts in the languages where there is
the greatest need and where we have the strongest impact," he
Trade union leader Jeremy Dear said the "ferocious cuts" to a
valued national service were ultimately "destroying public
services" in Britain.
"By cutting the service the government will cut British influence
in the rest of the world, and cuts will also be deeply damaging
for objective quality news services around the globe," said Dear.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) would join other media
trade unions at the BBC to "defend jobs and quality broadcasting"
at the BBC", he added.
The BBC is also planning to cut its online budget by 25 percent
from 137 million pounds ($217 million) to 103 million pounds ($163
million) by 2013/2014, with the loss of up to 360 posts.
The World Service, which started broadcasting in 1932, costs 272
million pounds ($431 million) a year to run and has an audience of
241 million worldwide across radio, television and online.