BBC News has unveiled plans to make savings and reinvest in enhancing its digital journalism services, responding to the evolving landscape of news consumption. The initiative aims to bolster its round-the-clock digital journalism, expand streaming offerings on BBC iPlayer and the BBC News app, and deliver more profound, analytical, and impactful reporting to online audiences. The strategy includes the creation of a new BBC News Investigations unit and the reinforcement of areas like BBC Verify through the introduction of additional reporting and production roles.
Given the shifting patterns in news consumption, characterized by an 11% decline in linear TV audiences over the past five years, the BBC recognizes the necessity to invest in online news. Constrained by a flat License Fee settlement and the effects of inflation, the BBC aims to achieve £500 million in savings.
This announcement signifies the next stage of BBC News’ transition from traditional broadcast to digital journalism. It aligns with the broader BBC strategy to provide value to audiences across different locations and platforms. Research indicates that online breaking news, impactful investigations, and meticulous verification are particularly valued by audiences.
BBC News and Current Affairs CEO Deborah Turness says: “Like many businesses, we are in a tough financial climate and as our audiences shift rapidly from TV to online news consumption, we need to make choices about where we allocate our resources. While TV and radio remain crucial to BBC News, we must invest in our digital platforms to ensure they are also the home of our very best journalism, and today’s package of measures will accelerate this transformation.”
The proposed measures include a reconfiguration of BBC Newsnight based on audience feedback, focusing on high-quality, consequential, news-making interviews, discussions, and debates. Newsnight will continue as a nightly BBC Two TV programme, transitioning into a 30-minute interview, debate, and discussion show, drawing on the best talents and interviews to interpret daily news.
To facilitate these changes, the BBC plans the closure of certain roles within Newsnight’s reporting, production, and operational functions. Despite financial challenges, the decision to maintain Newsnight’s presence five days a week underscores its significance as an iconic BBC debate and discussion programme.
As part of the transformation, a new BBC News Investigations Unit will amalgamate investigative talent across BBC News, creating new roles in financial and political investigations. There will also be a renewed effort to bring the depth and analytical strength of BBC broadcast journalism to online audiences, offering a comprehensive digital experience featuring curated daily content, premium analysis, and digital live events.
In commitment to serving the entire UK, an extended hour-long edition of the BBC News at One will move to Salford, marking the first time a daily BBC national news bulletin will be broadcast outside London. BBC Breakfast will also be extended by an extra 15 minutes daily.
The restructuring of BBC News’ story teams will prioritize digital storytelling and live coverage, reducing the emphasis on television packaging as the BBC shifts towards a digital-first approach. Specialist roles with open-source intelligence and policy analysis expertise will be created within the expanded BBC Verify team. Additionally, new positions such as UK Editor, Royal Editor, and correspondents covering Artificial Intelligence, Financial and Political Investigations, Employment, and Housing will be introduced.
The changes align with the BBC’s Annual Plan, outlining a reduction of 1,000 hours in content commissions. As part of this, the Our World strand on the News Channel will be discontinued, and nine fewer hours of single documentaries will be produced annually for BBC Two. Panorama will remain the flagship current affairs brand on BBC One, with no change in the number of hours.