BBC World Service axes five languages, 650 jobs

26th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The BBC World Service said Wednesday it would close five of its language services and cut 650 jobs as it seeks to make deep savings.

The Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian languages services as well as the English for the Caribbean regional service will all be shut down.

The cuts will also spell the end of radio programmes in seven languages including Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese, although multimedia coverage of the languages will continue.

BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks said: "This is a painful day for BBC World Service and the 180 million people around the world who rely on the BBC's global news services every week.

"We are making cuts in services that we would rather not be making."

But Horrocks said the scale of the 16 percent savings target that the World Service must make as part of widespread government cuts "is such that we couldn't cope with this by efficiencies alone."

As part of a new financial deal for the BBC, the corporation itself will take over the funding of the World Service, which was previously funded by the British Foreign Office.

The seven radio services to be cut are Russian -- apart from three programmes distributed solely online -- Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Turkish, Azeri and Spanish for Cuba.

The BBC said in these languages it would instead focus "as appropriate" on online, mobile and television content.

The 650 jobs will be phased out over the next four years.

© 2011 AFP

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