BBC News to shed 140 staff

Newsnight and Radio 4 to lose three reporters each in cuts to take effect by April 2013

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BBC News has announced details of the first wave of job losses it will suffer under the cost-cutting Delivering Quality First initiative.

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Three Newsnight reporters, three Radio 4 news reporters and 17 posts in Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra’s merging news services will be lost by April next year.

BBC staff were today advised of the changes – part of a drive to save £70m in news by 2017 – by News Group director Helen Boaden.

“I don’t pretend that these changes will be easy or painless for individuals or teams,” Boaden said. “As we have always done, we will work extremely hard to avoid any compulsory redundancies though as the BBC gets smaller, we cannot guarantee complete success in this area.”

The Radio 4 strands Taking a Stand and Beyond Westminster will be discontinued as part of the changes, with greater sharing of resources between Today, The World at One and PM. Radio 4 and Newsnight will also share reporters more than previously.

Newsnight will in addition rely more on joint commissions with other TV and radio current affairs programmes.

A total of 28 posts will close in the BBC newsroom, including one BBC News channel presenter.

Consultations with unions over the proposals will start next week. Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: “Mark Thompson’s shabby, behind-closed-doors deal with the government is the direct cause of these job cuts. His decision to agree to freeze the licence fee until 2017 means the corporation faces these cuts as well as taking on an extra £340 million in new financial responsibilities, such as the World Service and the rollout of fast broadband. 

“The top-quality journalism we expect from the BBC is under severe threat. There will be fewer original news packages and more repeats. The NUJ is calling on Thompson’s successor to revisit this deal.”

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Details of changes to local radio, regional current affairs and the Asian Network will be announced at a later date. It is thought that a total of around 500 jobs will be lost in BBC news services, with Boaden having warned her staff last year that the department would “bear the brunt” of Delivering Quality First.