BBC's Newsnight to be cut back as part of savings plan

2 months ago 86

TV camera in front of a BBC logo

By Ian Youngs

Entertainment & arts reporter

BBC Two's Newsnight is to be cut back and have its format overhauled as part of a plan to save money in the corporation's news department.

The long-running show will lose its dedicated reporters, be shortened by 10 minutes and drop its investigative films to focus on studio-based debates.

Meanwhile, the BBC News at One TV bulletin will be extended to an hour and will be broadcast from Salford.

The BBC also said it would put more money into digital journalism.

BBC News and Current Affairs CEO Deborah Turness said the broadcaster was "in a tough financial climate", and had to make "some difficult choices" as audiences switch from TV to online news.

The moves are expected to save £7.5m. Overall, the corporation must find £500m in savings as a result of a two-year freeze to the price of a TV licence, which provides most of its funding, coupled with the impact of inflation.

Image caption,

Kirsty Wark recently announced her departure from Newsnight after 30 years

More than half of Newsnight's 60 jobs will close.

Turness said: "When we started work on this announcement, I did not know if it would make financial sense to keep Newsnight on air.

"We, like many other news organisations, have streamlined our editorial teams to avoid duplication. It simply no longer makes sense to keep a bespoke reporting team dedicated to a single news programme with a small and declining audience, however good that programme is."

But she said the audience regarded Newsnight as "an important BBC brand", and "what they most value is the discussion and debate at the end of each day".

"So we've made the decision to reformat Newsnight as a 30 minute late-night news-making debate, discussion and interview programme," she continued.

"The new programme will no longer have a dedicated reporting team, but it will have access to our top reporting talent and experts from across BBC News, who will take part in the conversation and share their expertise and insights."

There will be an extra £5m for digital initiatives including more for "streaming, boosting online journalism around the clock, and making sure that the best of our in-depth, thought-provoking, and analytical journalism is much easier to find online", Turness said.

Although the plans will save money, a net total of 20 jobs are expected to be created within BBC News overall.

"While TV and radio remain crucial to BBC News, we must invest in our digital platforms to ensure they are also the home of our very best journalism, and today's package of measures will accelerate this transformation," Turness said.

A new investigations unit will "bring together the best investigative talent across BBC News", comprising 39 journalists including new roles in financial and political investigationsBBC Verify will be expanded, with new roles including people with OSINT (open source intelligence) and policy analysis expertiseThere will be a UK editor based in Salford, a royal editor, and new correspondents and reporters covering artificial intelligence, employment and housingA new "in-depth digital experience" will be a destination for analysis and "thought-provoking" journalism from editors, specialists and experts

Acting BBC chair Dame Elan Closs Stephens spoke at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference on Wednesday, saying the corporation needed "focus and a determination" as it seeks to make savings.

"This has meant - and continues to mean - difficult choices, with implications for our services and of course for our audiences," she said.

"However, I believe that the challenge, the real challenge for me and the board, is how to make sure that a leaner BBC can also be a better BBC."

Read Entire Article