IFJ Condemns BBC Cuts and Renews Global Campaign Over Public Service Values

The campaign against draconian cuts at the BBC is a battle will be taken up across Europe and around the world says the International Federation of Journalists, which warns the accumulated job loss of almost 6,000 will have a devastating impact on the world’s leading public broadcaster.

“Intense political and commercial pressure is bringing the BBC to breaking point,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. “These cutbacks are devastating. The fight to preserve the BBC is a global struggle for quality and public service values in broadcasting that we cannot afford to lose.”

At the weekend, IFJ leaders from Europe and around the world met in Baltimore in the United States where it was proposed that threats to public broadcasting in Italy and the UK should be fought at global level. The BBC yesterday confirmed a total of almost 20 per cent cut in jobs in administration, programming and journalism.

The IFJ says that the job losses at the BBC, which are made worse by sell offs in commercial subsidiaries, come after a turbulent year in which the station has come under pressure from the government over its independent reporting of the Iraq war and when commercial rivals have questioned the renewal of its charter and license fee.

“The enemies of the BBC are circling,” said White. “They want to bring down a broadcaster that stands tall among the world’s quality media. These cuts will not divert criticism, but they will weaken the corporation and lower the quality of output.” 

The IFJ says that the crisis at the BBC will be top of the agenda for a new European broadcasting group being created by the European Federation of Journalists. In January the EFJ issued a Manifesto for the Defence of Public Service values in Broadcasting. The Federation is also backing its affiliate in the UK, the National Union of Journalists, which has angrily rejected the BBC cuts.

The Baltimore meeting, involving IFJ affiliates in the United States, agreed a joint strategy for renewing a world-wide campaign for quality in broadcasting. 

The meeting took place as a news scandal was breaking in the US over government-sponsored video propaganda programmes being used by leading networks, such as Fox and ABC as disguised news items.

“When political spin and editorial cuts combine, the result is a crushing attack on editorial standards. The shocking story of propaganda as news in the US is the inevitable result when honesty in media gives way to spin and commercial interests,” said White. “That’s why the campaigns to save the BBC and to support the campaign against political influence in Italy are so vital.” 

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries