BBC announces closure of Caribbean Service

 

This was revealed as BBC gave details of its response to a cut to its Grant-in-Aid funding from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

BBC World Service is to carry out a fundamental restructure in order to meet the 16 percent savings target required by the British government’s spending review in October last year.

“To ensure the 16 per cent target is achieved, and other unavoidable cost increases are met, BBC World Service is announcing cash savings of 20 per cent over the next three years. This amounts to an annual saving of £46m by April 2014, when Grant-in-Aid funding comes to an end as BBC World Service transfers to UK television licence fee funding,” the release said.

BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks said, “This is a painful day for BBC World Service and the 180 million people around the world who rely on the BBC’s global news services every week. We are making cuts in services that we would rather not be making. But the scale of the cut in BBC World Service’s Grant-in-Aid funding is such that we couldn’t cope with this by efficiencies alone.

“What won’t change is the BBC’s aim to continue to be the world’s best known and most trusted provider of high quality impartial and editorially independent international news. We will continue to bring the BBC’s expertise, perspectives and content to the largest worldwide audience.”

This media house understands that the early roots of the Caribbean Service began in 1939. The programme “Calling the West Indies” featured West Indian troops on active service during World War Two to read letters on air to their families back home.

From 1943 to 1958, the programme became “Caribbean Voices”, which highlighted West Indian writers.

The Service was closed in the mid 1970s with Caribbean Magazine remaining on air, produced by a separate BBC department.

It was re-opened in 1988 as a news and current affairs department, later taking over Caribbean Magazine as part of the Caribbean stream of programming for the Caribbean.

Debbie Ransome, Head of BBC Caribbean Service said, “After one of our best years ever editorially, this has been a great blow for the team here.

“Given what we know BBC Caribbean means for providing pan-Caribbean coverage for a strong radio audience, plus the online links it provides between the Caribbean and its Diaspora, and the amount of goodwill it brought for the BBC from a loyal audience, clearly a void will be left.”

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