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Monday, January 18, 1999 Published at 11:46 GMT


Entertainment

BBC denies cuts planned

Newspaper reports were "misleading" say the BBC

The BBC has denied that it is planning large-scale cuts to its World Service radio, including the closure of the German and Czech language services.

The Observer newspaper claimed that it had obtained secret documents about cost-cutting plans drawn up by World Service Chief Executive Mark Byford.

The newspaper said the BBC plans to make cuts of 21m over three years, axe 100 jobs, and also cut back on broadcasts in Hungarian, Thai, Russian and Arabic. It said the cuts were to cover the shortfall in funding from the Foreign Office.

The World Service broadcasts in 44 languages including English and has more than 120 million listeners world-wide.

A BBC spokesperson said the newspaper report was "completely wrong".

"The picture painted by the Observer is inaccurate, misinformed and misleading.

"The World Service is currently in discussion with the Foreign Office about its three-year plan which follows the comprehensive spending review announcement last July.

"The plan's main aim will be to focus on investing in key developments utilising the settlement in the most effective manner in order to maintain the WS position as the world's leading international broadcaster. We expect to make an announcement on the details shortly. "

The three-year plan will be put to the BBC's board of directors on Thursday.



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