BBC World Service
Budget cuts at the BBC World Service will result in the loss of 650 jobs and cost the broadcaster more than 30 million listeners, it was confirmed today.

In a press conference this afternoon, BBC global news director Peter Horrocks said that the bulk of the job cuts - 480 - will be redundancies. With 26 of these posts currently not filled and 21 new posts proposed, Horrocks said this will mean 433 jobs to be cut by the end of this financial year. The World Service staff currently numbers 2,400.

It was announced yesterday that the BBC will also close five of its foreign language services as it seeks to find savings of 16 per cent – around £67 million – over the next four years, as set out in last year's comprehensive spending review.

Horrocks said today the BBC World Service had "looked in every nook and cranny in this building to see where we can make savings".

He refused to speculate on how many jobs will be voluntary redundancies but added that the World Service hopes to offset some of these closures with the creation of new posts created when the service moves under the licence fee in 2014.

He went on to insist that, despite the cuts the broadcaster will continue to have the biggest global reach.

"We intend to be as respected and trusted as we were before.

"Our audiences will fall, however we intend to invest for the future … and I'm absolutely committed to retaining the quality and the impact that the World Service provides … but it will clearly be much more challenging."

Horrocks said that he did not know the reasoning behind the Foreign Office funding cut, but said that the BBC made its case "as strongly as it possibly could".

"We explained the huge value for Britain that's created by the World Service," he said.

"The World Service should be supported. The foreign secretary has talked himself about the importance of the World Service ... however the funding we have received makes it difficult to reconcile."

Today's announcement also proposes the closure of radio programming in seven languages: Azeri, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, and Russian (with the exception of three online-only programmes).

There will be a phased reduction in medium wave and short wave distribution of the remaining radio services throughout the year.

The remaining radio services will continue to be available for audiences by other means such as online.

Four daily news titles - BBC Newshour, BBC World Today, BBC World Briefing and BBC World Have Your Say - will be the focus of English language programming, along with a new morning programme for Africa.

A consultation on the proposals is now underway.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).