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BBC World Service overhauls schedule as cutbacks continue

The BBC World Service is introducing a new schedule and cutting back on programmes and output from 31st March 2013 as the international broadcaster faces another multi-million Pound reduction in its budget.

The international radio station, available across the UK on DAB digital radio, terrestrial, cable and satellite TV platforms, has seen dramatic cuts to its budget following a 16% cut in its grant from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced during the 2010-2011 financial year.

The BBC World Service traditionally revises its schedule in March and October, coinciding with clock change weekend in the UK. Faced with a £42million cut this year, the new schedule and output reductions will result in 25 jobs being lost from the English-language service with news coverage reduced from 18 hours to 14 each weekday.

A new programme, The Newsroom, will replace World Briefing. Outlook will be extended to an hour-long format and incorporate the station's arts, music and humanities output following the closure of The Strand this weekend, but will not broadcast on Fridays. On Fridays, The 5th Floor has been promoted to Outlook's timeslot, providing highlights from the BBC’s 27 language services programing in English.

Additionally, output on shortwave will be cut further. According to the BBC, "shortwave and medium wave transmissions in English will be reduced to a minimum of 6 hours in total each day. This will generally be two periods of between 2 and 4 hours each, usually at peak listening times in the morning and evening to help minimise disruption."

It's two years since the BBC World Service closed down its European relay on 648 kHz, broadcast from Orford Ness in Suffolk.

From April 2014, funding for the BBC World Service transfers to the licence fee funded section of the BBC. It is still unclear how a service designed to reach non-licence fee payers abroad will be able to justify its expense to UK listeners, despite its popularity. Some UK listeners do not see the need for an international station from Britain around the world, while others feel it is an important link to the world as other countries expand their presence in broadcast media.

However, some argue that radio has had its day. Many countries are now using TV platforms to reach the world, with heavy investment made in establishing Russia's RT, Qatar's Al Jazeera and France's France24 TV networks rather than radio stations. The BBC continues to operate its commercially funded TV news channel BBC World News, which is not affected by BBC World Service radio cutbacks.

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