BBC Portuguese for Africa to be Axed

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Portuguese for Africa is amongst the sectors that will be affected by government cuts to the Grant-in-Aid funding from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the BBC announced today.

The changes will mean the complete closure of five language services including Portuguese for Africa.

“BBC World Service is to carry out a fundamental restructure in order to meet the 16 per cent savings target required by the Government’s Spending Review of 20 October last year.” The corporation announced.

Other affected services are Albanian, Macedonian and Serbian languages, as well as the English for the Caribbean regional service.

Cuts will also mean
  • End of radio programming

BBC World Service will cease all radio programming focusing instead on online, mobile and television content and distribution. The following languages will now be the focus, Azeri, Mandarin Chinese (note that Cantonese radio programming continues), Russian (save for some programmes which will be distributed online only), Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian.

  • Reductions in short wave and medium wave radio distribution

There will be a phased reduction in medium wave and short wave radio distribution.

English language short wave and medium wave broadcasts to Russia and the Former Soviet Union are planned to end in March 2011. The 648 medium wave service covering Western Europe and south-east England will end in March 2011. Listeners in the UK can continue to listen on DAB, digital television and online. Those in Europe can continue to listen online or direct to home free-to-air satellite via Hotbird and UK Astra. By March 2014, short wave broadcasts of the English service could be reduced to two hours per day in Africa and Asia.

BBC World Service will cease all short wave distribution of its radio content in March 2011 in: Hindi, Indonesian, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Swahili and the Great Lakes service (for Rwanda and Burundi).

These radio services will continue to be available for audiences by other means of distribution such as FM radio (direct broadcasts and via partners); online; mobiles and other new media devices.

Short wave broadcasts in remaining languages other than English are expected to end by March 2014 with the exception of a small number of “lifeline” services such as Burmese and Somali.

  • English language programmes

There will be a new schedule for World Service English language programming – a focus on four daily news titles (BBC Newshour, BBC World Today, BBC World Briefing, and BBC World Have Your Say); and a new morning programme for Africa. There will be a new daily edition of From Our Own Correspondent; and an expansion of the interactive World Have Your Say programme.

There will be a reduction from seven to five daily pre-recorded “non-news” programmes on the English service. This includes the loss of one of the four weekly documentary strands. Some programmes will be shortened. Titles such as Politics UK, Europe Today, World Of Music, Something Understood, Letter From…, and Crossing Continents will all close. There will also be the loss of some correspondent posts.

  • Audience reduction

Audiences will fall by more than 30 million as a result of the changes announced on 26 January 2011. Investments in new services are planned in order to offset further net audience losses resulting from additional savings in the 2012-14 period.

  • Professional Services

There will be a substantial reduction in an already tight overhead budget. Teams in Finance, HR, Business Development, Strategy, Marketing and other administrative operations will face cuts averaging 33 per cent.

  • Job losses

Under these proposals 480 posts would be declared redundant; of these 26 posts are currently unfilled vacancies. BBC World Service is proposing to open 21 new posts. Therefore the net impact of these proposed changes could result in up to 433 posts being closed this financial year against a total staff number of 2400.

By the time the BBC World Service moves in to the licence fee in 2014/15 we anticipate the number of proposed closures to reach up to 650. Some of these closures may be offset by new posts being created during this period.

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