It is a clear cut. The BBC, which has embarked on a drastic savings plan in recent years, announced on Thursday, September 29, its intention to cut 382 positions in its international service, in order to accelerate its transition to digital.
This project will result in the closure of radio stations in Arabic, Persian and Chinese, as well as the cessation of certain TV programs in Africa or Asia, said in a press release the British public audiovisual group, which is preparing to celebrate its centenary. The BBC assures that none of the 41 foreign language services will be completely closed but almost half of them will only be available online.
“Changing public habits around the world, with more people accessing information digitally, are accompanied by a difficult financial climate”recalled the group.
As it approaches its centenary next month, the BBC was already under considerable financial pressure: in addition to aging audiences, the Conservative government has frozen the license fee for two years, leaving a gaping hole in its accounts given the high level of inflation. The context has further deteriorated in recent months with soaring prices and therefore costs, prompting the BBC to “difficult choices”.
The BBC World Service reaches an estimated audience of 365 million people worldwide each week, and its programs are particularly important in countries where freedom of the press is restricted.
The objective of the measures announced on Thursday is to achieve savings of 28.5 million pounds (around 31 million euros) per year, this project being part of the digital acceleration plan announced in May, resulting by 1,000 job cuts (out of 22,000) and £500 million in annual cuts.
With this in mind, the group has already announced its intention to merge its British and international news channels. It will also stop broadcasting certain channels “in linear” – that is to say live on televisions, the traditional mode of television broadcasting.