By Biodun Busari

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has announced a plan to relieve 382 of its workers from their jobs, as plans to broaden global digital operations grow.

The UK’s media giant, in July, revealed strategies to combine BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to begin operation in April 2023.

Read also: 25m to lose jobs globally over COVID-19 – ILO

It said the decision is as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms, in trimming down its Iranian-language service among others.

The BBC, which is set to celebrate its centenary in October, said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of broader reductions of £500 million, which unions blamed on the UK government.

BBC World Service, which is one of the UK’s most recognisable global brands – currently operates in 41 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

“Today’s proposals entail a net total of around 382 post closures,” BBC said in an online statement.

Eleven language services – Azerbaijani, Brasil, Marathi, Mundo, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese are already digital only.

BBC studio

Under the restructuring plans, they will be joined by seven more – Chinese, Gujarati, Igbo, Indonesian, Pidgin, Urdu and Yoruba.

Also, radio services in Arabic, Persian, Kyrgyz, Hindi, Bengali, Chinese, Indonesian, Tamil and Urdu will stop, if the proposals are approved by staff and unions.

BBC World Service Director, Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“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,” she added.

The head of the broadcasting union Bectu, Philippa Childs, said they were disappointed at the proposed changes.

“While we recognise the BBC must adapt to meet the challenges of a changing media landscape, once again it is workers who are hit by the government’s poorly judged political decisions,” she said.

The government’s freezing of the licence fee which settles for BBC World Service had created the funding congestion and the need for a slash, she added.

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