Victoria Derbyshire live tweets her anger as BBC announces 450 job cuts

29 January 2020, 14:17

Around 450 BBC News jobs will be cut
Around 450 BBC News jobs will be cut. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Presenter Victoria Derbyshire has vented her disgust at BBC chiefs as she live-tweeted a meeting where 450 jobs were slashed at the corporation's news operation.

The Victoria Derbyshire programme was confirmed to be among the offerings to be axed after reports emerged last week.

Ms Derbyshire took to Twitter during the meeting of BBC executives and staff, writing online: "Fran Unsworth arrives. Approx 130 in the room. Being streamed to staff elsewhere in BBC. ‘Cheery’ music in room like you hear when you’re your put on hold....

"We were NEVER asked to grow the linear Tv audience. Ever. We were asked to grow our digital audience - we did - our digi figures are huge (our successful digital figures appear to be an inconvenience to those making the decisions)

"Our remit when we were set up: 1. Original journalism 2. Reaching underserved audiences 3. Growing the digital figures We achieved all 3.

"450 job losses (including 50 announced before Xmas at World Service). Plan to close our programme; Newsnight will make fewer films, 5 Live job losses, cut to number of presenters in BBC News. Centralised commissioning of stories in these areas."

The BBC announced a reduction in the number of films produced by Newsnight, which will lead to job losses.

There will also be job cuts at 5Live as well as a review of the number of presenters the BBC has and how they work.

In addition, World Update on World Service English will be closed.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary Michelle Stanistreet described the BBC cuts as "damaging".

Ms Stanistreet said in a statement: "These damaging cuts are part of an existential threat to the BBC and a direct consequence of the last disastrous, secret licence fee deal the BBC agreed with the government. This is before the impact of taking over responsibility for the over-75s licences kicks in.

"Against this backdrop, the BBC's very existence is being threatened with public service broadcasting under unprecedented threat.

Fran Unsworth, director of news and current affairs, said: "The BBC has to face up to the changing way audiences are using us. We have to adapt and ensure we continue to be the world's most trusted news organisation, but, crucially, one which is also relevant for the people we are not currently reaching.

"We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money. We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital.

"Our duty as a publicly-funded broadcaster is to inform, educate and entertain every citizen. But there are many people in this country that we are not serving well enough.

"I believe that we have a vital role to play locally, nationally and internationally. In fact, we are fundamental to contributing to a healthy democracy in the UK and around the world. If we adapt, we can continue to be the most important news organisation in the world."

The broadcast union Bectu’s national secretary Noel McClean said: “The redundancies announced today in BBC News and radio production show the difficult savings decisions the BBC is being forced to make because of continued budget constraints.

“It would be easy to point the finger at BBC management, and we will absolutely hold them to account, but Bectu knows that the reality is much more complicated and that government policy (including decisions around free licences for over 75’s) has led to the pressures that impact our members and audiences.

“Bectu will be doing everything it can to minimise the impact of today’s announcement. We have already met with the BBC to start consultation about their proposals and timescales about how staff can be deployed to other areas rather than losing their jobs."