Media Moves

BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ may be axed

December 4, 2023

Posted by Mariam Ahmed

The following excerpt was sent out from

Sweeping cuts to Newsnight are a staging post to axing the flagship current affairs programme altogether, BBC insiders fear.

Newsnight’s dedicated investigative reporting team will be axed and the show relaunched as a shortened, 30-minute forum for studio debate and discussion of the day’s news.

More than half of Newsnight’s 60 jobs will go under the plan to shave £7.5m from the BBC News budget as the corporation seeks to manage inflation and a frozen licence fee.

Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban voiced the dismay of staff, writing on X/Twitter: “I have worked on the programme for 32 years, around the world, risking my life many times for its journalism. You can well imagine my feelings at cuts to our staff and budget of more than 50%.”

BBC bosses admitted they had considered axing Newsnight altogether before agreeing to the cheaper format.

Insiders fear the programme has only been given a stay of execution.

New roles will be created in financial and political investigations.

Lead presenter Victoria Derbyshire wrote on Twitter/X: “Newsnight’s changing – with evolving audience habits & recent licence fee settlement. CEO of News says changes will ‘guarantee long term future of (Newsnight)’.”

She added that “22 journalist roles will be cut, several camera operators and graphics specialists jobs will also go.”

Veteran Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark has already announced she will leave the programme after the general election.

Senior BBC news figures said the Newsnight cuts were overdue. One executive told i: “The audience has fallen from one million to just over 300,000 viewers. They escaped the deep cuts that the rest of the news department had to take and you just cant justify the expense any more when the licence fee has lost 30 per cent of its value.”

The BBC insisted it was committed to Newsnight for the long-term. Deborah Turness, BBC News CEO, said: “Audiences have told us how much they value Newsnight as an iconic BBC debate and discussion programme, and we’ve listened to what they’ve said – we’ve made the decision to keep the programme on air five days a week, despite the financial challenges we face.”

She added: “It simply no longer makes sense to keep a bespoke reporting team dedicated to a single news programme with a small and declining audience, however good that programme is.”

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