BBC News and BBC World presenters among 70 staff facing sacking | BBC

BBC News channel and BBC World presenters are to be sacked as part of 70 job cuts across the UK to create a single, more digitally-focused rolling news service.

The company, which in May proposed merging its UK and international news channels, said the revamped channel will launch next April and will be called BBC News.

UK viewers will no longer be provided with a domestic continuous news service, including the loss of programs such as Dateline London after 25 years, with the channel offering a mix of international content as well as “new flagship programming centered around high profile journalists”. .

The plans see a significant reduction in the number of presenters currently working for the BBC News channel and BBC World, with less high-profile screen staff to retain the “chief presenter” title, while correspondents are to be given the opportunity for more on-air presenting time .

The BBC’s annual report lists high-profile names such as Clive Myrie, Reeta Chakrabarti, Victoria Derbyshire, Ben Brown and Joanna Gosling – who collectively receive more than £1million for their work at the BBC – as presenters on the BBC News Channel. A total of 19 main presenter roles are expected to be eliminated.

A spokesman for the BBC said 70 jobs will be cut in the UK, while 20 more roles will be created on and off screen in Washington DC. The new channel will air in the UK during the day, and then in Singapore and Washington DC.

The BBC said UK viewers will continue to receive certain content at certain times of the day and during certain high-profile news programmes, and there will be production capacity for a domestic-only stream for major UK news events.

“The way audiences consume news is changing,” said Naja Nielsen, digital director at BBC News. “Our goal is to create the best live and breaking video news service in the world – on our websites, our apps, on BBC iPlayer and on our new TV news channel.”

The new channel will remain ad-free in the UK. The BBC’s annual report, released earlier this week, showed that company newsroom staffing is at its lowest level in a decade.

Paul Siegert, the national broadcast organizer at the National Union of Journalists, said the plan to serve an international audience with significantly fewer staff while maintaining existing high standards of production and journalism was not feasible.

“Plans for a new channel that covers both UK and international news just aren’t going to work,” Siegert said. “It’s been proposed and dropped before. We urge the BBC to reconsider this cost-cutting idea. It will be impossible for the new channel to have the same high standards of journalism that the two current channels are known for around the world.”

The NUJ said the number of existing staff losing their jobs could ultimately be much higher than the BBC has indicated. NUJ said the merger of the two channels will result in the BBC officially closing 143 journalistic posts. While the company is creating a significant number of new roles, existing employees may not receive them or may be in geographically inappropriate locations.

“NUJ is also concerned about the relocation of jobs currently based in London to Washington and Singapore and reminds decision makers that BBC stands for the British Broadcasting Corporation,” Siegert said.

The BBC said the changes would create a “modern, digitally led and streamlined organization that makes the most of the royalty and delivers more to audiences”.

The BBC’s news and current affairs operations, which have an annual budget of £314m, have been the focus of several rounds of significant cuts in recent years as the company seeks savings to offset the real fall in funding following royalty settlements with the government.

Earlier this year the government froze the £159 annual license fee for two years until 2024, which the BBC says means a further £285m in annual savings have to be found. But Tim Davie, the BBC’s director-general, is trying to make £500m in cuts to existing TV and radio services to invest in digital-only initiatives.

Davie, who succeeded Lord Tony Hall as Director-General in September 2020, has overseen around 1,200 job cuts to date and has announced around 1,000 more will be eliminated over the next few years.

Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, will launch a consultation on the future of the royalty as the company’s funding mechanism beyond the end of the BBC’s current Royal Charter in 2027.

Dorries called the license fee “outdated” and “discriminatory” because all households pay the same amount regardless of income. She has referred to “fairer” models used in other countries, such as Germany, which include a link to council tax. Other alternatives are a voluntary subscription model like Netflix uses, which enables advertising, or a general broadband fee.

The BBC will now start consultations with affected staff and unions, while Ofcom, the UK media regulator, may seek to look into plans to make major changes to the two existing news services.

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