The Guardian: “Hundreds of jobs to go as BBC announces World Service cutbacks”

(Source: The Guardian via Mark Hirst)

Hundreds of jobs to go as BBC announces World Service cutbacks

Corporation to end production of radio output in 10 languages, including Chinese, Hindi and Arabic, as it blames licence fee freeze

The BBC has announced deep cuts to its World Service output that will result in the loss of hundreds of jobs, saying it has been forced to act by the government’s ongoing licence fee freeze.

In a move that could weaken the UK’s soft power around the world, the corporation will stop producing radio output in 10 languages, including Chinese, Hindi, and Arabic.

BBC Persian will end its audio broadcasts aimed at Iran, with the announcement coming at a time when widespread protests are taking place in the country.

There will also be a change in focus of the World Service’s English-language radio output, with more time dedicated to live news and sports programming at the expense of standalone programmes.

About 382 jobs will be lost as a result of the proposals, which the BBC said was required to make £28.5m of annual savings. The broadcaster blamed years of below-inflation licence fee freezes imposed by the government, in addition to the rapidly increasing cost of producing programmes because of the state of the economy.

Philippa Childs of the broadcasting union Bectu said she recognised the BBC needed to adapt to the digital era but that the government’s licence fee freeze has “potential ramifications for the BBC’s reputation globally”.

The World Service was traditionally funded directly by the government and was seen as a soft power tool that provided British news and information to hundreds of millions of people around the globe. This money largely dried up as part of George Osborne’s austerity measures in 2010, when the bill for World Service operations was loaded on to domestic licence fee payers.

Since then the BBC has had to go cap-in-hand to the government to seek extra funding to support specific World Service projects, with ministers providing around £400m in additional cash since 2016. However, there are doubts about how long these deals will continue. Earlier this year the BBC had to ask ministers for an emergency £4m to keep its operations in Ukraine and Russia on air. [Continue reading at The Guardian…]

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9 thoughts on “The Guardian: “Hundreds of jobs to go as BBC announces World Service cutbacks”

  1. Jack K

    For me this brings into focus the slow loss of broadcasting and what it means to others. Sure, here in the US, digital streaming and eventual DAB broadcasts seem inevitable. But for those in countries suppressed by their governments (and outside governments who think they’re entitled), digital can be blocked far easier than traditional OTA broadcasts. Sure those signals can be jammed, but not always. And a radio is still the best surreptitious receiver of content!

    VOA and the BBC still serve a purpose, perhaps not as dominant as decades ago, but I feel it’s still as crucial as ever.

  2. Dafydd Jones

    I’ve been getting a very strong signal here in West Wales (in the UK) from the BBC World Service english service on 12025khz from Kranji in Singapore over the summer between 1600 and 1900 utc. . At times it’s been booming in like a local radio station. At other times not quite so good,but still very,very listenable,with very little fade. This on just the XHDATA D-808’s telescopic antenna placed up against the window (listening via Sennheiser wireless headphones). It’s almost like the good old days,until they change frequency at 1900 utc and then it’s back to the usual rotten & (generally) unlistenable reception. I can remember listening to the BBC World Service on 648khz MW back in the 80’s at night,in bed,when I was a youngster. In my opinion it is a pale shadow of what it was back then. I can remember listening to an entertaining play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. These days it’s all news & there’s allot of preachey pc stuff which is,quite frankly,a pain to listen to and I don’t think anyone can seriously believe that the BBC are impartial,anymore. Indeed,they never were. There was just more of a balance of opinion amongst those working for them. Nevertheless,there is still some interesting programing and as a lifelong fan of what is know as DX’ing it is a pleasure to hear the signal whacking in from Kranji like it has over the summer. Since,they ended transmissions into Western Europe the signal here (I can’t put up an external aerial here) decent reception has been intermitent and generally very poor. Indeed,it’s usually unlistenable. I have only been picking up this signal from Kranji over the Summer and not before. Not being an expert on such matters can anyone explain why the signal from Kranji should be so strong here now? I am a member of the BDXC (British DX club) and I would have thought I would have encountered this transmission before as I receive their SW broadcasts in english language several times a year! I suppose I may lose this frequency in the Autumn,but it is great to hear it now when there is so little to listen to in english on sw these days!

  3. Droumaguet

    I still miss the french service of the BBC on 648 khz where news was relly reflecting what was happening in the world. I miss the BBC english service on SW, that i could listen to anywhere in the world until the mid 90’s. Its a shame that the BBC WS is not supported by the UK governement.

  4. mangosman

    Their transmitters are contracted out to a private company. From Singapore they transmit a high power DRM HF signal to cover India, which has an extensive network of very high powered DRM transmitters and 5.3 million cars containing DRM receivers. I don’t know if they are HF capable.
    When they switch the transmitter from AM to DRM mode, the electricity consumption halves. I wonder what their electricity costs?

  5. john

    No sympathy for the BBC here at all.

    It’s a dinosaur, a relic of the 20th century that refuses to get with the program. It needs to ditch the TV licensing model, stand on its two two feet, and compete in the global marketplace with its rivals. If it can’t hack it there, it should die.

    In addition, BBC local radio in the UK distorts the radio marketplace. Local BBC stations get handouts via the British taxpayer while commercial radio stations have to survive on their merits and advertising revenue, or go extinct.

    I won’t mention the many recent BBC scandals and its appalling behavior attempting to cover up their shenanigans.

    1. Abigail

      Can you find a citation for your claim that “the British taxpayer” funds BBC local radio? If not, then I have to conclude that you have absolutely no idea what you are dribbling about, and should stick to commenting on your own media market, not the British one.

      1. john

        There you go:

        “Despite being authorised to start local radio, there was no licence fee money to pay for it. The government and the BBC devised a method of alternative funding. The BBC would pay for setting up the stations but local authorities would be encouraged to meet the running costs.”

        Request denied.

        Born British, proud American by choice.

  6. Dan

    This was a predictable though lamentable development — just a few years ago, the BBC announced an expansion of language services and overseas production centers. It will be interesting to see what the impact is on those services. Unfortunately, this is the direction things have been heading. It will also be interesting to see what impact there is on actual remaining SW transmissions, particularly those from Singapore.


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