BBC World Service axes five language services

25th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The BBC World Service said Tuesday it would close five of its language services, in a move that will reportedly lead to hundreds of job losses as the broadcaster seeks to make huge savings.

Language services set to be axed are Albanian, Macedonian and Serbian, as well as Portuguese for Africa and the English for the Caribbean regional service, said a statement from the British broadcaster.

It is thought around 650 jobs from a workforce of some 2,400 will be lost in a bid to save 46 million pounds (53 million euros, 73 million dollars) a year, the BBC website reported, without citing its sources.

The report also said that a reduction of programmes in another seven languages was to be announced, without giving further details.

A spokesman for the broadcaster refused to confirm the report and said further details would be announced at a staff briefing on Wednesday.

Unions blasted the "ferocious cuts" and said they planned to stage a protest outside the World Service head office in central London on Wednesday.

The publicly-funded broadcaster said it was trying to make savings after agreeing in October to take over funding of the World Service, which had previously been paid for by the foreign ministry.

This was part of spending reductions at the BBC which in effect mean a 16-percent cut in its budget over six years as the coalition government seeks deep public sector savings.

"These closures are not a reflection on the performance of individual services or programmes," insisted Peter Horrocks, BBC Global News Director, in a statement.

"They are all extremely important to their audiences and to the BBC."

Jeremy Dear, head of the National Union of Journalists, said that the "ferocious cuts to a valued national service are ultimately the responsibility of the coalition government, whose policies are destroying quality public services in the UK."

The World Service currently broadcasts news in English and 31 other languages and has an audience of 241 million worldwide across radio, television and online.

The BBC is funded by the licence fee, which every British householder must pay to watch television and listen to radio. This has also been frozen for six years as part of the cuts.

© 2011 AFP

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