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Bad news for BBC as corporation plans £80m of cuts to current affairs output

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By John Glenday, Reporter

March 1, 2016 | 2 min read

BBC News staff have been warned of a fresh round of cutbacks targeted at the department as the corporation seeks to make savings of £80m over the next four years.

Announcing the decision to staff yesterday James Harding, the BBC’s head of news, said that the reduction in spending was a ‘working assumption’ and would come on top of £5m in savings already agreed as part of a separate £150m cost cutting plan through to 2017.

The latest measure forms part of a wider ambition to save £550m a year by 2021-22 and has fuelled speculation on the future of Radio 5 Live, rolling news channel and local news.

The BBC News channel alone costs £63m a year to run, much of this attributable to news gathering, although the resulting content can then be re-used elsewhere by the broadcaster. Similarly Radio 5 Live sets the broadcaster back £66m a year owing to the expense of sports rights, leading to speculation that it may follow BBC Three’s lead and be made online only.

A third area where the axe may fall is local radio, where commercial rivals have long complained the BBC’s £153m a year spend distorts the market.

Finalised proposals from the Future of News project are set to be revealed by the end of the month.

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