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BBC mulls laying off 1,000 employees

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London: The BBC said on Thursday that it plans to cut 1,000 jobs, including management positions, in the light of a 150-million pound ($234 million) deficit in subscription revenues, Efe news agency reported.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall announced the measures to his staff at a meeting at the headquarters here, in which he said that many people no longer pay the fee to finance the BBC chain because they did not watch live television broadcasts.

In addition to the abolition of managerial posts at different levels of the station, other divisions will also be reduced.

Hall defended the move to “meet the financial challenges we face” and insisted that the goal was to provide viewers with quality programmes.

He added that the plan aimed to make the BBC “simpler” and “leaner”.

The corporation has already taken steps to trim an estimated 1.5 billion pounds by 2017, mainly through a significant reduction in administrative costs and salaries.

Hall explained that income from the licence fee paid by viewers to watch the BBC would bring in about 150 million pounds less from 2016-17 than what was estimated back in 2011.

The reason for the drop, Hall found, was that people were increasingly using mobile internet for information, while fewer and fewer households actually owned a television.

(IANS)

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Burundi Blocks Broadcasts from VOA, BBC and Expand Restrictions on their Operations

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza, said the news organizations were banned for spreading falsehoods

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burundi, VOA, BBC
Television director of Burundi's National Radio and Television, Nestor Bankumukunzi, poses in the studio in Bujumbura on May 15,2015. VOA

Burundi will continue to block broadcasts from two international media organizations and expand restrictions on their operations, the government announced Friday.

At a meeting in Bujumbura, the president of the National Council of Communication, Nestor Bankumukunzi, said the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Voice of America are no longer allowed to broadcast, effective immediately. The ban is indefinite and extends to journalists, both foreign and domestic, who provide information to either broadcaster.

“We are alarmed that reporters in Burundi are now forbidden to communicate with VOA and believe these continuing threats to our journalists undermine press freedom in the country,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said. “We stand with the people of Burundi against those who are restricting their access to accurate and reliable news and information.”

BBC, VOA, burundi
The BBC condemned the decision, calling it “a serious blow against media freedom.” VOA

The BBC condemned the decision, calling it “a serious blow against media freedom.”

Last May, the Burundi government suspended both news organizations for six months, a week before holding a referendum on a new constitution. The outlets have been off the air since.

Rachel Nicholson, a researcher for Amnesty International, said Burundi’s government is angry at the broadcasters for different reasons.

The government was upset by a documentary the BBC broadcast last year, she said, about members of Burundi’s intelligence service operating secret sites where dissidents are detained and tortured.

BBC, VOA, burundi
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza speaks after signing for a new constitution adopted by a referendum in Bugendana, Burundi, on June 7, 2018. The change will allow Nkurunziza to run for office twice more in seven-year terms from 2020. VOA

Burundi has accused VOA of employing a journalist who opposes the government, Nicholson added. Patrick Nduwimana, the former director of Bonesha FM Radio in Burundi, is “wanted for participating in deadly violence that preceded the May attempted coup,” the National Council of Communications wrote in Friday’s statement.

“I think it’s really worrying to see the government personalize attacks on radio stations. They have such an important role to play, particularly BBC and VOA, particularly in the absence of independent Burundian radio stations operating from within the country,” Amnesty’s Nicholson said. “The BBC and VOA have such an important role to play in sharing information with people in Burundi.”

In a phone interview with VOA, Willy Nyamitwe, senior adviser to Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, said the news organizations were banned for spreading falsehoods.

 

VOA, BBC, burundi
“We are alarmed that reporters in Burundi are now forbidden to communicate with VOA and believe these continuing threats to our journalists undermine press freedom in the country,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said. VOA

“Some international media are biased. Everybody knows some reports were fake reports, fake news,” Nyamitwe said. “So if people cannot even try to speak the truth, but if some people are using some media outlets only to spread lies, what other comments do I have to do?”

Nyamitwe also said that Burundi has an open media landscape and that all countries have the right to ban news organizations that spread lies. “There are thousands of journalists in the country. There are tens of media houses, radio stations, TV stations, newspapers, media online.

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“So I think people are exaggerating thinking that there’s no media houses in the country,” he said. “I do know that even in the United States there are some media houses that have been called biased or fake news media houses.”

In its 2018 press freedom report, Reporters Without Borders ranked Burundi 159th out of 180 countries worldwide. It said security forces routinely harass journalists and pointed to the unsolved 2016 disappearance of journalist Jean Bigirimana as evidence of intimidation and violence against reporters. (VOA)