The BBC has announced cuts to journalists and other staff as it looks to save £25m from its BBC England services.
In total, the BBC announced today, 450 jobs will go in England, including journalists as well as presenting, technical and operation staff.
The BBC described the cuts as part of a ‘significant reinvention’ of its services in England.
The statement said: “The new vision for regional and local services includes:
- Modernising the BBC’s regional TV centres – investing in the latest technology and introducing a new, consistent operating model for each newsroom with digital story telling at its core.
- Commissioning a broader range of TV programming that reflects life across England especially in the North and Midlands.
- Launching a new investigative journalism programme on BBC One for audiences in the English regions.
- Reimagining the BBC’s political coverage outside Westminster with weekly regional politics programmes retained and two new digital programmes piloted.
- Continuing work already underway to explore what more the BBC can do in the North and the Midlands to better serve audiences in those regions.”
Helen Thomas, the Director of BBC England, commented: “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.”
The statement added that political coverage outside Westminster will increase, with the 11 regional Sunday morning political programmes on BBC One reinvigorated. Two digital political programmes would also be piloted in Yorkshire and the Midlands. These would go on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds.
A new weekly regional investigative journalism programme will launch on BBC One featuring long-form investigative journalism. It would be made in six English regions and replace current affairs programme Inside Out.
The BBC is also working on plans to better serve audiences in the North and Midlands where it plans to refocus resources. In the BBC’s Annual Plan published earlier this year, a commitment was made to increase activity in places like Bradford, Sunderland, Wolverhampton, Blackpool and Peterborough.
Elsewhere changes introduced in March at the start of the COVID-19 restrictions will continue. The 6:30pm bulletins on BBC One will have one presenter, so the bulletins are consistent across England and in line with the rest of BBC News. In Local Radio, the simplified schedule introduced in March will
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told Press Gazette: “These are huge cuts which will inevitably have an impact on the BBC’s ability to sustain the breadth and depth of news coverage throughout England which truly reflects the diversity of the nation.
“We are consulting our members on how these plans will impact on the BBC’s output and the extent to which it will increase workloads on already-stretched newsrooms.”