Britain’s BBC to axe 450 newsroom jobs in cost-cutting drive


Britain’s BBC said on Wednesday it would axe 450 jobs from its news division in a restructuring designed to cut costs and change the way it produces news to reach a younger audience.

The 98-year-old corporation, locked in a battle with the government over its future, said fewer viewers were watching its scheduled news programmes and it needed to invest in new formats on its digital platforms.

To save money, it will cover fewer stories and journalists will work in centralised teams rather than for specific programmes, helping to cut duplication.

BBC News said it currently employs around 6 000 people, including 1 700 outside the UK, but declined to specify how many were journalists. Areas of the corporation facing cuts include late-night show Newsnight, the Victoria Derbyshire daytime show, 5Live radio and the World Service.

“We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money,” said Fran Unsworth, Director of News and Current Affairs.

“We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital,” she added in a statement.

The National Union of Journalists said the BBC faced an existential threat.

In recent years, the BBC has clashed with the government over funding, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson questioning whether it should continue to be supported by an annual fee paid by all viewing households regardless of how much they use its services.

It said in 2016 it needed to save 800 million pounds, with around 80 million pounds coming from the News division by 2022. In 2018/19 it received 3.7 billion pounds from the licence fee.

The corporation’s head, Director General Tony Hall, said last week he would step down to make way for a new person to lead negotiations with the government over its future financing model.

The corporation has also faced criticism from some politicians that it has a London-centric bias. As part of its plan, it said more BBC journalists would be based outside the capital in future.