BBC to reveal cost-cutting plans for news programmes

The BBC is to announce cuts to its news division on Wednesday as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Plans to axe Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC Two programme have already been leaked, with the host saying she is “absolutely devastated”.

Flagship BBC shows like Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today programme are also expected to have to make efficiencies.

Victoria Derbyshire programme cancelled
Victoria Derbyshire leaves BBC Broadcasting House in London, after it was announced that her TV programme is being taken off air (Yui Mok/PA)

BBC News has to save £80 million as part of financial pressures on the corporation, including paying for free TV licences for over-75s on pension credit.

It is expected that BBC Radio bulletins across different stations will share more resources.

The cuts also come amid payouts to some female staff, with radio presenter Sarah Montague getting a £400,000 settlement and Samira Ahmed winning an employment tribunal in a dispute over equal pay.

They are being announced as the corporation starts the search for a new director-general with Lord Tony Hall announcing he will step down from the role in the summer.

In comments from a media event published in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hall said the BBC has contributed to a toxic discourse through political journalism aimed at trying to “catch out” politicians, adding he was “great believer in the long-form interview where you can explore at length”.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall
BBC director-general Lord Hall (David Parry/PA

BBC director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth told staff the move to end Derbyshire’s daily BBC Two current affairs programme had “not been an easy decision”.

Derbyshire, 51, said she first found out about the plans in a newspaper.

Absolutely devastated at the plan to end our programme (which I first learned about in yesterday’s Times). I’m unbelievably proud of what our team and our show have achieved in under 5 years.. 1/3

— Victoria Derbyshire (@vicderbyshire) January 23, 2020

She said her Bafta-winning show had delivered on its remit, breaking original stories and “attracting a working class, young, diverse audience”.

Confirming the decision, Unsworth said: “Linear television viewing is declining, and as we progress with our £80 million savings target, it is no longer cost-effective to continue producing the programme on television.”

A petition to save the programme has reached more than 30,000 signatures.

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