BBC To Dismiss 400 Employees
As ambitions to expand its global digital operations rise, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has announced a proposal to let off 382 of its employees.
The UK’s largest media conglomerate unveiled plans in July to merge BBC World News television with its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel, which would launch in April 2023.
It said that by reducing back on its Iranian-language service among other things, the decision was made as part of a cost-saving initiative and shift to digital platforms.
The BBC, which will commemorate its centennial in October, announced that it would need to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) in its overseas services as part of bigger cuts of £500 million, which unions blamed on the UK government.
One of the most recognizable international brands from the UK, BBC World Service broadcasts in 41 languages to an estimated 364 million listeners each week.
However, the company claimed that shifting to “digital-first” made financial sense because audience patterns were shifting and more people were obtaining news online, along with a block on BBC funding and rising operating costs.
“Today’s proposals entail a net total of around 382 post closures,” BBC said in an online statement.
There are already eleven language services that are available only online: Azerbaijani, Brazilian, Marathi, Mundo, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.
They will be joined by seven additional languages, including Chinese, Gujarati, Igbo, Indonesian, Pidgin, Urdu, and Yoruba, as part of the reorganization plans.
If the plans are accepted by the workers and unions, radio services in Arabic, Persian, Kyrgyz, Hindi, Bengali, Chinese, Indonesian, Tamil, and Urdu will also be discontinued.
Since audiences have more than doubled since 2018, according to BBC World Service Director Liliane Landor, there is a “compelling case” for extending digital services.
“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.
The President of the broadcasting union Bectu, Philippa Childs, expressed disappointment with the amendments that had been suggested.
“While we recognise the BBC must adapt to meet the challenges of a changing media landscape, once again it is workers who are hit by the government’s poorly judged political decisions,” she said.
“The government’s freezing of the licence fee which settles for BBC World Service had created the funding congestion and the need for a slash.” she added.