BBC Bush House
The BBC World Service has announced it is to close five of its language services as it seeks to find savings of around £67 million over the next four years.

According to a BBC News report, the closures are thought to put around 650 jobs at the service at risk.

In a statement given last night, the BBC said it will cut services in Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian; as well as English for the Caribbean regional service.

The World Service has to find savings of more than 16 per cent over the next four years according to the terms set out in the government's comprehensive spending review, which outlined a cut in funding from the Foreign Office.

Staff are due to be briefed on redundancy details later today, according to BBC News.

According to the broadcaster's news report, the redundancies are to be phased over two years with around two-thirds of the cuts understood to be made in the first year. The news report also claims that a reduction of programmes in a further seven languages will be announced.

The BBC could not confirm this yesterday but more details on additional cutbacks are expected later today.

"These closures are not a reflection on the performance of individual services or programmes," BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks said in the statement.

"They are all extremely important to their audiences and to the BBC.

"It is simply that there is a need to make savings due to the scale of the cuts to the World Service's Grant-in-Aid funding from the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office and we need to focus our efforts in the languages where there is the greatest need and where we have the strongest impact."

Members of the National Union of Journalists are due to hold a protest against the cuts today at the World Service offices at Bush House.

Union leaders at the World Service have also written to the chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Richard Ottaway and the chair of the Culture Media and Sport Committee John Whittingdale, calling on them to review the BBC's planned cuts.

In a statement sent out last night, the union said the cuts "represented a brutal attack" on the service.

"These cuts are a direct result of the government slashing funding to an internationally respected and successful broadcaster," general secretary Jeremy Dear said in the statement.

"Journalists and other BBC employees are rightly angered at the destruction being caused to a broadcasting service of which the UK should be proud.

"The NUJ will join with other unions in defending jobs and quality broadcasting at the World Service. Our members have already explained, in a remarkably calm and reasoned way, why the cuts are such a severe threat to their service."

Image of BBC Bush House courtesy of Redvers on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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