BBC News is cutting 450 jobs as part of a modernization plan that will shift resources from television production to digital services.
The announcement was delivered to staff in a meeting on Wednesday.
“We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money,” Fran Unsworth, director of news and current affairs, said in a statement. “We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital.”
The BBC said it would cancel one of its flagship programs, and reduce the number of films produced for Newsnight, its late evening daily news show. Cuts will also be made to the BBC World Service, and the number of anchors will be reviewed.
The cuts are in addition to 50 jobs losses announced late last year, meaning the BBC is planning to shed 500 of its 6,000 news staff.
The BBC said its newsrooms will in future focus on fewer stories and reorganize around a “story-led” model, with more journalists based outside of London. The story teams will be organized around topics such as culture, technology and innovation, money and work, the planet, and politics.
A majority of the BBC’s funding comes from the £154.50 ($202) annual tax paid by all Brits who watch or stream live TV. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review of the fee, including whether a failure to pay it should lead to legal action. BBC supporters say that making the license fee optional would put the future of the public service broadcaster at risk.
Unsworth said the news division needs to save £80 million ($104 million) by 2022, due to “pressures across the BBC.” About half of those savings have already been reached, but the network had to find new ways to reach audiences and save more money, she added.
Some prominent BBC employees, including host Victoria Derbyshire whose show has been cut in the overhaul, slammed the decision.
“We were NEVER asked to grow the linear TV audience. Ever. We were asked to grow our digital audience — we did — our figures are huge (our successful digital figures appear to be an inconvenience to those making the decisions),” Derbyshire tweeted.
The National Union of Journalists called the cuts part of an “existential threat” to the BBC.
“If the government goes ahead and decriminalizes nonpayment of the license fee, we know the impact will be further losses for the BBC of around £200 million a year,” NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in a statement.