BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks said yesterday the cuts imposed on the World Service would lead to an immediate drop of more than 30m in its audience.
Horrocks warning came after reports that around 650 jobs would be cut from the World Service workforce of 2,400.
In a bid to save £46 million a year, the BBC is to close five World Service language services.
Horrocks said yesterday:
Unfortunately, the changes I am announcing today will result in loss of audience. We estimate that there will be an immediate drop of more than 30 million in our audience figures as a result of these measures.
Successful investments in new content and services as a response to competitive pressure and audience and technology changes will be essential to avoid further reductions in our reach.
The only way to sustain our position, and to cope with the savings, is to share content more effectively and to invest where we can in the distinctive journalism that audiences most want from us.
The onus to make the cuts has fallen on the BBC after it was forced by the Government to assume responsibility for the funding of the World Service from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Horrocks attempted to throw some of the heat for the cuts the way of the Government yesterday; pointing the finger at William Hague for failing to provide funds for the World Service despite his saying he supported the concept of a strong service.
Horrocks, The Telegraph reported, said it was ‘difficult to reconcile’Hague’s public statements of support for the network with the budget cuts he had imposed.