DATE: 24 June 2011
THE Government’s recent about-turn on BBC World Service funding is “Too little, too late,” according to the Chartered Institute of Journalists.
The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, this week announced an additional grant of £7m over the next three years, which it’s thought could save the BBC Arabic Service and throw a lifeline to the threatened Hindi network.
Chairman of the CIoJ’s Broadcasting Division, Paul Leighton, welcomed the news, but said it does not end the fight to save hundreds of jobs which are due to be axed in the BBC World Service.
Mr Leighton – an ex-BBC news editor – says that many jobs have already gone with the closure of a number of language services – and there are still more to come.
“It was an intolerable burden to add the costs of the World Service to the BBC budget at a time when money was already tight,” he said.
“It seems the Foreign Secretary has, to some degree at least, accepted that. But this money is no substitute for the grant in aid withdrawn from the World Service by this Government.”
Earlier this month (June) BBC News tabled proposals for widespread cuts to its 8,000 news staff in the UK and abroad, as part of a plan to make annual savings of £89m. The plans also included merging the previously separately-funded BBC World Service with the main news division. It is feared that as many as 1,000 journalists’ jobs may be axed.
The Institute plans to continue to fight further closures and job losses.