BBC World Service Journalists To Be Asked To Relocate Away From UK As 380 Set To Lose Jobs In Digital-First Move

BBC World Service Journalists To Be Asked To Relocate Away From UK As 380 Set To Lose Jobs In Digital-First Move

UPDATE 03:46 a.m PT: The BBC has confirmed the relocation of some of its World Service journalists away from the UK as it gets set to introduce a digital-first model that will see a net loss of around 382 jobs.

The proposals, which come as part of a £30M ($32.7M) World Service savings drive, will see seven more language services moving to digital only, the closure of BBC Arabic radio and BBC Persian radio and the ending of some TV and radio programs. More than half of the 41 language services will become digital once the proposals have been implemented.

London teams covering regions such as Thailand, Korea and India will be asked to relocate – news that was broken by Deadline earlier today – and a new China unit will be created in London, “telling the global story of China to the world.”

An African content hub will also be forged, alongside what the BBC described as a “centralised digital-first Commissioning and Newsgathering Content Production Hub.”

The digital-first approach has been a key plank of Director General Tim Davie’s approach to news across the board. The World Service plans will lead to a net total of around 382 job losses, the BBC said.

Liliane Landor, BBC World Service Director, laid out the plans to World Service staff in the past hour.

“There is a compelling case for expanding our digital services across the World Service in order to better serve and connect with our audiences,” she added. “The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing.”

The plans will now be submitted to the unions, who are already battling with the BBC over the decision to merge the international and domestic news channels.

Previous: 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.

Landor will use the Zoom to “share the results of our strategic review and talk through our proposals for change and the strategic reasons behind these proposals,” according to an email seen by Deadline.

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.