The BBC has confirmed plans to
close five of its 32 World Service language services.
Staff were informed that up to 650
jobs will be lost from a workforce of 2,400 over the next three years.
The Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian
services will be axed, as will English for the Caribbean and Portuguese for
Africa, in a bid to save $73 million year.
Audiences are estimated to fall by
more than 30 million, from 180 million to 150 million a week.
Director general Mark Thompson said
the cuts would “inevitably have a significant impact on the audiences who
use and rely upon the relevant services”.
Yet he said they were
“consistent with our long-range international goals and strategy” and
that “supporters of the international role of the BBC should not
The service, which started
broadcasting in 1932, currently costs $432 million a year and has an audience
of 241 million worldwide across radio, television and online.
Radio programming in seven
languages – Azeri (the official language of Azerbaijan), Mandarin Chinese,
Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian – will end as part
of the plans.
Instead there will be more focus on
online, mobile and TV content distribution
The World Service will also cease
short-wave transmission of six more services in March 2011 – Hindi, Indonesian,
Kyrgyz, Nepali, Swahili and the Great Lakes service (for Rwanda and Burundi).
The BBC said two-thirds of jobs
would go in the first 12 months.