BBC News puts restructure threatening 450 jobs on hold for Covid-19 crisis

Plans to cut 450 jobs in BBC News have been put on hold as the corporation faces up to the challenge of reporting during the coronavirus crisis.

Outgoing BBC director-general Tony Hall told staff today that a major restructure to modernise the newsroom, saving £40m, had been suspended.

The job losses were first reported in January. Consultations with affected staff had been due to take place, but are now on hold.

“It would be inappropriate,” Lord Hall said of the wide-reaching cuts.

“We haven’t got the resource to plough ahead with those plans at the moment, so we’ll come back to that at some point.”

BBC News must find £80m of savings by 2022.

The BBC is now operating a “core news service” during the pandemic as the Government advises people to avoid non-essential contact with others or travel in efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

The broadcaster has taken a number of programmes off the air to help it cope, including the Andrew Neil Show, Hardtalk, Newswatch and the Victoria Derbyshire Show.

Question Time is now being broadcast at 8pm without a live studio audience and guests sit apart from each other as per social distancing guidelines from the Government.

BBC News director Fran Unsworth has said of the changes: “Like many organisations we are unable to have all our staff on site due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are therefore making some changes to what we do to streamline our output to ensure we can work with fewer people and protect the staff who are at work.”

The BBC has also launched a number of new programmes during the pandemic, among them Health Check UK Live, and has turned the One Show in to a consumer programme for “all aspects of the crisis”.

Read all Press Gazette’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the news industry here

Picture: Reuters/Paul Hackett

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