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BBC to cut 650 World Service jobs

The BBC has confirmed plans to axe 650 jobs under huge cost savings, saying it was a "painful day" for its global news service.

Around 480 of the jobs will go over the next year and the savings will amount to £46 million a year by 2014.

The BBC made it clear the cuts were as a result of changes to the funding of the World Service, which will be paid for by the licence fee from 2014 rather than by the Government.

The World Service is to close five of its language services - Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian, as well as the English for the Caribbean regional service, which will reduce the service's 180 million global audience by 30 million.

BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks gave the grim news to staff and said they were "clearly very sad". He made it clear that the BBC had made a strong case not to have its funding cut, and stressed the importance of the World Service to Britain's reputation across the world.

he told a news conference that people who listened to the World Service were likely to trade with Britain, adding: "We made that case to ministers. We explained in great detail the impact of the decision."

The BBC Trust said in a statement: "The BBC is today announcing large-scale and significant changes to BBC World Service. These changes have been fully considered and approved by the BBC Trust.

"As part of the new licence fee settlement agreed with the Government last autumn, the World Service will be funded from the licence fee from 2014. This was agreed on the basis that there are valuable synergies between the World Service and the rest of the BBC and the fact that it helps to deliver the BBC's public purposes.

"In the period up to 2014, the World Service continues to be funded by the Government through a grant from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Today's announcement reflects the financial settlement reached with the Government as part of the recent Comprehensive Spending Review, which sees the level of Government funding available for the World Service reduced by 16%."

BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said it was a "difficult day" for the World Service, adding: "We have no choice other than to live within the reduced Government grant."

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