Wednesday 25 March 2020 3:33 pm

BBC suspends job cuts as it doubles down on pandemic coverage

The BBC has halted plans to slash 450 jobs as it faces growing demand for its coverage during the coronavirus crisis.

The broadcaster said in January it would cut the roles from its news operations as part of a plan to save £80m by 2022.

Read more: Coronavirus: BBC overhauls broadcast plans to tackle outbreak

The cuts are set to impact Newsnight, which will produce fewer films, and radio station 5 Live, while the World Service will have its output reduced.

But director general Tony Hall today told staff the move has been put on hold as the organisation grapples with the pandemic.

The BBC has already taken shows such as Victoria Derbyshire and Politics Live off air as it overhauls its news output.

Special programming has also been launched on TV and radio to provide Brits with the latest information on the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We all know these are challenging times for each and every one of us. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a special role to play at this time of national need,” Hall said in a statement last week.

While filming on some shows such as Eastenders has been halted by the virus, the BBC has outlined plans to maintain entertainment programming during the crisis.

The Graham Norton Show, Have I Got News For You and The Mash Report will all continue to air each week, while the broadcaster will air special programmes to mark Glastonbury and Eurovision, both of which have been cancelled.

Read more: Coronavirus: BBC suspends Eastenders filming

The pandemic has sparked a surge in viewing figures for the public service broadcaster, with the Six O’Clock News last week attracting its largest audience in more than a decade.

However, the virus is likely to hamper the BBC’s cost-cutting plans. Last week the organisation also said it will push back plans to end the blanket free licence fee scheme for over-75s.

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