BBC News Boss Deborah Turness To Unveil Strategy Amidst Cuts Talks – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: BBC News Boss Deborah Turness is preparing to address thousands of her staff tomorrow to “share her new strategy for taking BBC News and Current Affairs into the future” amidst across-the-board cuts and tricky questions.

According to an internal email, seen by Deadline, the circa-3,500 BBC News staff are being urged to attend the strategy meet tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. GMT (2.30 a.m. PST) as it will “very much shape the way we all work going forward.”

“You will have received your invitation to an All News call next Thursday 15 December at 1030 GMT,  where our CEO Deborah Turness will share her new strategy for taking BBC News and Current Affairs into the future,” said the email.

The address will be the second major strategy talk delivered by former NBC International President Turness since joining in September – having used her first to call for transparency in “turbulent and divisive times” – and it comes at a time of strife for a division forced into savings of £80M ($99M) by the UK government.

This week, the BBC officially confirmed plans put forward in October to make around 380 World Service roles redundant – approximately 16% – as it moves to a digital-first model. They will be enacted over the coming months and likely be completed by the start of the next financial year.

Negotiations over these plans have been taking place over the past weeks, partly over the decision to ask London teams covering regions such as Thailand, Korea, Vietnam and India to relocate to their respective regions.

A string of job adverts were uploaded earlier this week for roles in these nations but reporters have raised concerns that the move especially to Vietnam and Thailand poses dangers to press freedom. Most of the BBC’s Vietnamese-language staff, for example, have previously operated out of London due to the oppression of press freedom in Vietnam, and these journalists will be required to be based in Bangkok.

Sources indicated to Deadline the plans have been a cause for continued concern throughout the past weeks.

In a set piece speech delivered externally last week, Director General Tim Davie said the BBC “needs more money to support the World Service to further aid cuts and will be discussing this with the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.”

Turness, who joined the BBC from ITN in September, will likely face tricky questions on this along with more swingeing government-imposed cuts to local news that are incoming.

Local radio was the most recent to be hit, with 48 redundancies announced as the team is also brought within the digital-led strategy. For both the World Service and local radio, programs are set to close and merge.

Despite the UK government effectively forcing these cuts upon the BBC, new UK culture secretary Michelle Donelan criticized the BBC last week for failing to brief the government in advance. She called on the BBC to “work constructively” with the Conservatives when planning mass redundancies.

Meanwhile, the much-criticized merger of the Domestic and International news channel is currently being pushed through and is another constant talking point within the division, sources said.

All of these issues breed a tough environment for Turness, who has only been in post for three months but will be looking to reassure thousands of staff that she has the situation under control, many of whom may be about to lose their jobs.

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