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EXCLUSIVE: Some BBC World Service teams are to be asked to relocate away from the UK as they prepare for impending cuts, Deadline understands.
Staff within the BBC’s global news division are about to be informed with a set of proposals via Zoom by Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services. Some management are understood to have been told yesterday.
The proposals come after Director General Tim Davie said the World Service’s budget would be reduced by £30M ($32.7M) by 2023/24 as part of a digital-first BBC blueprint and, speaking earlier this week at RTS London, he hinted that foreign-language news services could be cut if the government doesn’t help with increased financing.
Deadline understands the proposals center on a decentralization of the World Service teams, meaning that the majority of the Asian language services including the Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Korean, Chinese and some South Asian services targeted at India will be relocated from London’s New Broadcasting House to the respective countries they report on.
Team members raised concerns with Deadline that the move will mean many will lose their jobs as they are unable to relocate for various reasons. One pointed to press freedom difficulties in certain nations, such as Thailand, where press freedom is constrained, or Vietnam, where journalists have to report from neighboring countries due to the ruling Communist Party.
According to the BBC Annual Report, which described the World Service as “one of the jewels in the UK’s crown,” the part-government-funded division received £251M ($271M) last year, and there were 1,433 staff in the World Service Group.
The proposals will now be submitted to unions and come at a tricky time for the whole of the BBC News division, which has recently seen former NBC News International President Deborah Turness become CEO.
Journalists are reportedly considering strike action over the planned merger of the domestic and international news channels, which will see 70 jobs axed.
News has been one of the hardest hit BBC divisions since the government imposed savings on the corporation several years ago, and hundreds have lost jobs already.
The BBC declined to comment on the proposals but information is expected on record shortly.