Well, well, well, it seems that BBC is going down. Ultimate solution ? Money-making ideas provided from their own journalists.
Reporters for the BBC World Service have been asked in an internal email to help come up with new commercial opportunities for the corporation
BBC World Service journalists have been asked to come up with money-making ideas to help increase revenues for the corporation’s international services, leading to fears over editorial independence.
Peter Horrocks, the director of BBC World News, has sent an email to the 2,400 staff working in the division – which includes the World Service, BBC World News channel and BBC.com – telling them they need to consider income and exploit new commercial opportunities to maximise the value they create with their journalism.
Horrocks’ email lists income as one of the four objectives as staff must consider when they prepare for upcoming appraisal meetings with their managers.
“I would like each of you to contribute to the delivery of these objectives … let us know if you have any ideas on how we can strengthen our commercial focus and grow income … these objectives apply to all parts of Global News: editorial and non-editorial as no matter where you work you can help meet these objectives,” Horrocks wrote.
A BBC spokesman said journalists had not been ordered to come up with money making schemes. He said no-one had been given financial targets and editorial independence would not be compromised.
He added that the BBC’s public service mission to provide impartial and independent news would always takes precedence over wider commercial goals and nothing in the email suggested anything different.
“The job of the BBC’s journalists will always remain providing impartial, independent news and there are no specific commercial targets for frontline journalists,” the spokesman said.
John Tusa, the former head of the BBC World Service, told the Independent that the development was appalling. He said: “I can’t think of any other head of the World Service who would have used vocabulary like that to tell his broadcasters and journalists what to do.
“The notion that as a journalist you are having to think about how you can sell or turn our output into money is just so wide of the mark. If he [Horrocks] pushes it too far he can start to undermine the values of trust on which the BBC World Service news has existed for 80-odd years.
BBC World News channel and BBC.com – the international version of the corporation’s website – both take advertising.
Horrocks’ announcement comes against a backdrop of a 16% cut in the Foreign Office funding for the World Service over three years to 2014. The actual annual cut is about 20%, or £46m a year by 2014, from a budget of £253m in 2011.
In early 2012, Horrocks announced that about 650 World Service jobs, from a staff of about 2,000, would be cut to help meet the savings targets.
The cost savings also resulted in a reduction in World Service output, including the closure of five foreign-language services and cutbacks to shortwave broadcasts,which the BBC estimated would cost it at least 30 million listeners worldwide.
However, the BBC takes over responsibility for funding the World Service from the Foreign Office in 2014 and has said it planned to reverse some of the cuts.