AddThis SmartLayers

Local news hit as BBC reveals plan to axe hundreds of jobs

BBC newsThe BBC is set to cut hundreds of jobs across the English regions with its local news operations set to be worst affected.

BBC England plans to shed 450 jobs across England by the end of March, including 142 in online and TV news and 139 in local radio, after being told it must save £25m by the end of March 2022.

Another 29 jobs will go from regional current affairs Inside Out programmes with the 11 editionised programmes replaced by a new investigative programme produced from six regional hubs in Newcastle, Yorkshire, Norwich, Birmingham, London and Bristol.

A further 125 voluntary redundancies will be sought, while seven jobs will go at the corporation’s London-based wire service.

Although no radio stations will close, the move will mean changes to the BBC’s regional online news operation, currently based at a central hub in Birmingham.

The proposals will see editorial decisions decentralised, as they are in radio and TV, with local subbing taking place in the regions.

However the the BBC has confirmed that its Sunday Politics shows, which had been reduced from 11 to one country-wide programme during the coronavirus crisis, will return to back to its usual regional slots in autumn, or when safe for staff to return to their studios.

The cuts follow last week’s announcement that 150 jobs are to be cut from the BBC’s Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland operations.

Helen Thomas, director of BBC England, said: “I’m proud people have turned to us for trusted news and information in huge numbers during COVID-19, proving the importance of our local and regional services.

“But those services were created more than 50 years ago, have changed very little and need significant reinvention. That has meant taking some difficult decisions.

“We are in the age of the Facebook community group and the WhatsApp neighbourhood chat. We must adapt to better reflect how people live their lives, how they get their news and what content they want.

“We’re going to modernise our offer to audiences in England by making digital a central part of everything we do. We’ll take forward lessons from COVID-19 that will make us more agile and more in touch with communities while also ensuring we’re as efficient as we can be.

“I’m confident we can evolve our local and regional services while improving our impact and better serving our audiences.”

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said: “There will be relief that the union’s campaign to save the Politics shows has paid off and that the journalism created by Inside Out has not been scrapped.

“But the hit to local radio – for staff and listeners – will be a major blow. Commercial radio has all but given up on providing any local news and radio has been a great mainstay for many communities during the crisis.

“Last time swingeing cuts were planned for local radio there was huge hue and cry.  It’s also unclear how 142 jobs can go from Regional TV and Online unless there’s going to be a serious drop in quality and standards.

“The union will fight these cuts and ensure that any changes that take place are dealt with as fairly as possible.”