BBC cuts impact Caribbean

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.