BBC News has confirmed that as part of a radical modernisation plan, and in an effort to save the corporation £80m, it will make 450 of its staff redundant.
The BBC remains the UK’s most trusted and most consumed news service – but audience behaviour is changing rapidly, with audiences for linear TV continuing to decline, especially amongst 16-34 year-olds.
The BBC newsroom will be reorganised along a ‘story-led’ model, focusing on news stories more than on programmes or platforms. This is designed to reduce duplication and to ensure that BBC journalism is making as much impact as possible with a variety of audiences, rather than stories only appearing on one outlet or platform.
The new way of working will mean a changed focus for the news agenda, to ensure it is tailored to subjects that matter most to the audience.
The changes mean there will be a reduction in the overall number of stories covered.
There will be further investment in digital news, with a new version of the BBC News app, which will be more intuitive, more visual, and with increased personalisation.
More BBC journalists will be based outside London in future.
Fran Unsworth, Director of News and Current Affairs, says: “The BBC has to face up to the changing way audiences are using us. We have to adapt and ensure we continue to be the world’s most trusted news organisation, but crucially, one which is also relevant for the people we are not currently reaching.
“We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money. We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital.
“Our duty as a publicly funded broadcaster is to inform, educate, and entertain every citizen. But there are many people in this country that we are not serving well enough.
“I believe that we have a vital role to play locally, nationally and internationally. In fact, we are fundamental to contributing to a healthy democracy in the UK and around the world. If we adapt we can continue to be the most important news organisation in the world.”
As part of the reorganisation, and having carefully considered the audience data, the BBC is also proposing to make the following changes to its output:
♦ As confirmed last week, the Victoria Derbyshire programme on television will close later this year. We will continue to produce the kind of journalism the show has been making, but it is no longer cost-effective to produce for TV
♦ There will be a reduction in the number of films produced by Newsnight, which will lead to post closures. The programme will stay at the same length and timing and will continue to deliver high quality journalism on the day’s events and beyond
♦ There will be post closures at 5 live driven by the changing listening habits of the audience and demand for digital content
♦ World Update on World Service English will be closed, alongside other schedule changes. This is in addition to the changes to Asian language services outlined last year
♦ There will be a review of the number of presenters we have and how they work
The different changes to how BBC News will work will lead to an estimated 450 job losses.
Firm plans for post closures relating to the new ways of working will be put forward before the summer, following further trials of the new model.
BBC News needs to save £80m by 2022. This is driven by pressures across the BBC, including the last licence fee settlement. BBC News has already saved about half of this amount and the changes announced today should complete the savings.
The BBC will maintain the ring-fenced spending on the BBC World Service and the changes announced today do not directly affect the services being funded by the UK Government.
National Union of Journalists general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said: “These damaging cuts are part of an existential threat to the BBC, and a direct consequence of the last disastrous, secret licence fee deal the BBC agreed with the government. This is before the impact of taking over responsibility for the over-75s licences kicks in. Against this backdrop, the BBC’s very existence is being threatened with public service broadcasting under unprecedented threat. If the government goes ahead and decriminalises non-payment of the licence fee, we know the impact will be further losses for the BBC of around £200m a year and increased collection costs of £45m. Such a politically motivated move – dressed up as concern for the mythical imprisonment of vulnerable members of society – will serve to undermine one of the UK’s strongest success stories, emasculating a brand renowned and respected across the globe.
“The BBC is the single biggest driver of the creative economies, and a vital part of the British economy. If there is a desire to change the licence fee model, then that should be properly considered and consulted upon, with no changes until a credible alternative is found, one that fulfils the BBC’s public service values and the key principle of universality. The government should be supporting and properly resourcing the corporation – an organisation that wields significant soft power across the globe – instead of indulging in ideological retribution.
“That is why the next BBC director general must be a champion for the corporation, someone capable of fighting for this broadcasting powerhouse, someone able to stand up against any future political interference. The BBC’s detractors and competitors in the media are scenting blood – we’ve all seen the headlines and read the opinion pieces with unnamed sources dripping poison. We can all see which way the wind is blowing. The corporation faces a truly tough time. The NUJ will do all it can to defend public service broadcasting and protect our members’ jobs from these politically-motivated attacks. And that includes refuting commentary that seeks to link overdue settlements to women who have been discriminated against and unlawfully denied equal pay with job cuts – a crass and ill-informed red herring.”