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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 11:09 GMT
Job cuts 'will not diminish news'
Mark Thompson
BBC Director General Mark Thompson announces the job cuts

The decision by the BBC to cut 420 jobs in its news operation has worried many audience members.

They fear it will affect what they see as the high standards set by BBC News.

A few of you, however, think the cuts do not go far enough.

We asked Deputy Director of BBC News Adrian Van Klaveren to respond to some of these concerns.

Q: Why, when the BBC is the best news service in the world, is it cutting jobs?

A: The world of broadcasting is changing fast - and the BBC is not exempt from this.

Since we are spending public money, we have a particular duty to ensure that there is value for money in everything we do.

We are also aware that, as well as our traditional news programmes and bulletins, audiences want many different things from us.

In the last 10 years we have set up News 24 and the news website by moving money into these areas.

We believe in the coming years we will need to make further substantial changes to respond to a desire for more interactive and on-demand news and to make sure we can offer journalism of authority, depth and range which will be unrivalled by our competitors.

Although we are reducing jobs, by 2008-9 we will be spending more money on BBC News than we do now.

Q: How can BBC News possibly argue that quality won't be affected when so many journalists are losing their jobs?

A: We are determined to ensure that the quality of our journalism and our programmes is not damaged.

Our commitment to a serious news agenda and our core journalistic values of accuracy, fairness and impartiality is non-negotiable.

In making these changes, we are concentrating on using technology effectively to ensure we produce news in the most efficient way.

We have identified ways of reducing duplication in how we do things and we have put a great deal of effort into understanding how audiences use our current output.

Adrian Van Klaveren
We are confident that overall our international coverage will be enhanced, not diminished, by these changes
Adrian Van Klaveren

We believe that after these changes we will end up with a service which audiences will value even more highly than now.

Q: Does this mean the BBC will finally stop wasting licence-fee payers' money by sending three reporters to cover a story when one would do?

A: We want to make sure we send the number of people to cover a story who are actually needed to provide output of the quality our audiences expect.

We often have to cover stories day and night and we need to cover them for television, radio and online.

In many cases this needs more than one reporter but we are looking hard at how we organise ourselves to make sure we do things as efficiently as possible.

Q: Talent is hard to come by and cost-cutting can be counter-productive. How is the BBC making sure it doesn't lose its best people?

A: We certainly have no intention of losing our best people because we know how much our audiences value them.

We can offer any journalist a huge range of opportunities and the chance to play a key role in programmes and services which reach very large numbers of people.

We will be working hard to make sure that we use our top talent to the full and that these changes don't make them think about leaving.

Q: I don't think the cuts go far enough - the BBC still has thousands more journalists compared to Sky. Do you really need that many?

A: The range of journalism provided by the BBC is enormous - across television, radio and online, including TV and radio continuous news services, current affairs programmes and the News website.

Sky provides only a single continuous news channel, the news service for Five and a very limited radio service.

It's not therefore surprising that the BBC needs many more people.

We also invest heavily in specialist journalism and people based overseas because we believe this enriches our journalism but again this means employing more journalists than our competitors.

Q: I both listen to BBC radio and read your website daily - I rely on it for international news as it's virtually non-existent here in the US. Will these cuts affect your international coverage?

A: We are committed to international coverage through our network of overseas bureaux and our range of current affairs programmes.

Eyewitness, on-the spot reporting is essential to what we do. Technology means we can report more quickly from more places than ever before.

In a small number of locations, we will have fewer people but at the same time we are investing in developing our coverage of both the Middle East and the European Union.

We are confident that overall our international coverage will be enhanced, not diminished, by these changes.


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