The BBC is to cut the number of journalists covering political party conferences as programme editors have been told to focus on “core news coverage only”.
Only the Today programme will continue to have its own studio during conference season, the Times has reported, while other shows including Newsnight and Daily Politics will no longer have dedicated sets.
In previous years, the BBC has taken around 80 members of staff including journalists and technicians to cover the two major party conferences. This compares with three for ITV and eight for Channel 4.
The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg will continue to lead coverage from TV bulletins, but other BBC News staff and those from BBC regional news channels will not be accommodated at the corporation’s “diminished facilities”, the Times has said.
BBC sources told the paper that all news programmes would still cover the conferences, but would have to be more “nimble”.
The move comes as the BBC is looking to trim £80m from its news budget by 2021. This is almost equivalent to axing radio station 5Live (budget £49.1m a year) and the BBC News Channel (budget £46.2m a year).
A BBC spokesperson said: “BBC News is, in general terms, sending fewer journalists to cover events, but we are not reducing the strength and breadth of our coverage in any way.”