BBC head of news quizzed over whether 24-hour news channel could go online-only

BBC journalists are reportedly concerned that the corporation’s 24-hour news channel could go online-only.

Director of News and Current Affairs James Harding was asked about the possibility of the channel being lost at an internal meeting yesterday, according to The Independent.

When questioned by Newsnight journalist Emily Maitlis at an internal meeting at New Broadcasting House, the former Times editor said he would “personally” like it to continue, the paper reported.

Harding also said he expects the BBC World News service and the British news channel to become “much closer” when asked if they could be merged.

He told staff that he needs to make a further £20m of cuts to the news budget but said that the 24-hour channel would last for “a long time”, according to The Independent.

A BBC spokesman told Press Gazette: "James Harding was very clear that News Channels are going to be around for a long time and there is going to be demand on TV.

"This was more about the relationship between the rolling news channel and what's on the web getting closer and the context of how you see a  24/7 Newsroom working.

"One of the great things that is happening is we have already seen how BBC World News and the World Service are changing the nature of what we are getting on the Channels, there's more sharing of material etc."

They added: "James was very clear that it was not as simple as merging – it was more about sharing and ensuring we are catering both for the audience of licence fee payers and also BBC World News – we can do both but have to think about how best to do so."

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